The Ogden Dunes Ski Jump wasn’t built to entertain Hoosiers or attract tourism. It was built to shatter world records. Even among the Lake Michigan’s hulking dunes, this wood-and-steel structure would be a giant among giants. The 192-foot tower coupled with the crest of a hillside roughly equal in height, mixing artificial know-how with one of Indiana’s natural wonders. That could be a lovely metaphor for the state, if the jump itself wasn’t so terrifying.
In 1927, when construction began in earnest on the monster jump, Gustave Holm, the Ogden Dunes Ski Club’s chief engineer, told reporters “We estimate that the speed of the riders as they leave the slide will be more than 60 miles per hour, and the maximum jump should be more than 200 feet.”
In 1927, the amateur world record was 212 feet. The top speed of that year’s most popular car, the Ford Model A, was just over 60 miles per hour.
Riders would plummet from a height of 30 stories, bullet down a slope as long as a World War I aircraft carrier, rocket into the air a hundred feet over the spectators’ heads, and (hopefully) land upright almost a football field away.