La Salle's River AdventureRide Retrospective
For twenty years, guests at Six Flags over Texas could embark on a river expedition and encounter wild animals, Indian attacks, whirlpools, waterfalls, and caves full of treasure. Such was the basis of La Salle’s River Adventure, a themed riverboat ride named after the French explorer Robert de La Salle who explored the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River in the mid 1600s.
Diesel-powered riverboats carried 30 guests plus a guide/narrator and meandered through the adventure-filled river created by the park. Various theming and animatronics along the river provided the visuals while the guide’s colorful spiel supplemented the action. Each guide was allowed to embellish upon the park’s general guideline for the spiel, allowing each journey to be unique. Eventually La Salle’s River Adventure was removed to make way for the Roaring Rapids ride, but its colorful spiels and memorable scenes cemented its status as a nostalgic favorite of Six Flags over Texas guests and employees.
La Salle's River Stats
|Ride Type:||Themed riverboat attraction|
|Attraction Location Currently Occupied By:||Roaring Rapids|
Over its 21-year operation, La Salle’s River Adventure continually changed — adding and removing scenes as necessary. For example, live alligators and flamingos were part of the action when it first opened. Soon afterward when flamingos repeatedly went missing, the alligators were deemed the culprit and fake animals replaced them. Still, the ride’s general sequence can be described as the following…
After loading, the boats meandered down the 3-feet-deep concrete trough disguised as a wild river. Riders were advised that two French scouts, Jacque and Pierre were sent ahead to ensure their safety. Boats then passed a wolf and entered an abandoned campsite, still smoldering from a presumed Indian attack. After the campsite, a Spanish fort was spotted with cannons that fired upon the unsuspecting guests.
French scouts Jacque and Pierre were then spotted, hanged by their necks from trees. Appearing that the journey was more dangerous than first expected, the guide would then ask a French fur trader if they should continue their journey. Even after a stern “no,” the ride would continue due to the riskier proposition of passing the Spanish fort again.
Riders then found themselves in the middle of a battle with French soldiers on one bank and Indians on the other. Rifles repeatedly fired between the two sides. After the battle, an alligator was spotted with its mouth wide-open, ready for its next meal.
An Indian village was the boat’s next stop, complete with a dancing medicine man and women washing clothes along the river’s banks. More wild animals were then seen, including alligators, flamingos, and a cougar. A beaver colony would then be spotted seconds before a tree fell and narrowly missed the boat.
After the falling tree, the boat stopped at a waterfall seemingly blocking the path. A rock wall then opened and the boats traveled into a cave which lit up and revealed hidden treasure. The guide warns the riders not to touch the treasure, as it is obviously being guarded by ancient skeletons. As a token of kindness for leaving the treasure alone, the cave once again opened and allowed the boats to exit. With Fort St. Louis in sight, the riverboats returned safely to dock and guests exited the watercraft.
Re-Created Ride Video of La Salle’s River
The video below combines an authentic La Salle’s River guide spiel along with photos to re-create the entire ride.
The boats used on La Salle’s River Adventure were partially automated. Within the river’s concrete trough lay a deeper channel that acted as a guide for the boats. Two vertical rails with tires were attached to the front and rear of each boat and steered the vessels through the winding river, only requiring the guide to control the boat’s throttle. Occasionally the boats would jump out of the track or drag along the bottom of the channel.
A small antenna installed on top of each of the 6 boats actually controlled the special effects. The antennas would trip wires strung across the river and trigger the various animations at the correct time.
Removal and Legacy
La Salle’s River Adventure gave its last expedition in August, 1982. The ride was then removed to make room for the new Roaring Rapids attraction. Unlike some of Six Flags over Texas’ other removed attractions, La Salle’s River Adventure had a long life and served its purpose for over 20 years. Increasingly-savvy guests likely became less entertained by the dated animatronics used in the ride, not to mention the park had plans for the larger and more-thrilling Roaring Rapids ride.
Some artifacts built for the ride still exist in the park today. Fort St. Louis, for example, remains in the park, now serving as the backdrop of a historical display in the France section. As for the boats, some were sold and are reportedly still in use as tourist boats in Jefferson County, Texas. And despite the ride’s closure 20 years ago, the ride lives on in the minds of past park guests and especially former employees who worked as river guides, as many can still recall the infamous La Salle’s spiel even today.
- ParkTimes – La Salle’s River Boat page complete with a 1970s-version of the spiel
- YouTube – Old film clip of a 1960s Six Flags over Texas, complete with clips of La Salle’s River Adventure
- McCown, Davis. “LaSalle’s River Adventure.” Parktimes.com. 15 Aug. 2010. Web. 09 Oct. 2011. <http://parktimes.com/content/node/17>.
- “Six Flags over Texas Former Employee Forum.” Six Flags over Texas Former Employee Pages. Web. 09 Oct. 2011. <http://forums.sfot.net/>.
- Skinner, Clint. Six Flags over Texas: 50 Years of Entertainment. 2011. Print.
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