Georgia teen builds custom backyard roller coaster over five years

Jackson Crosskno(CANTON, Ga.) — This innovative Georgia teen is definitely going to be the coolest kid in the neighborhood this summer.

Jackson Crosskno, 19, of Canton, built a custom roller coaster in his backyard over the course of five years.

“I’ve always been into roller coasters, and I used to go on YouTube all the time and I came across some people who had built some in their backyard. But they were all really small and didn’t have a theme to them, so I went and tried it,” Crosskno told ABC News of how the project began. “My dad helped me a little bit back in 2012. I got the main platform and the drop built, and I got kind of distracted for a few years and then I came back to it.”

His elaborate “White Mountain Railroad” even has a complex backstory, which Crosskno said he created to mimic the Walt Disney Imagineering process.

“The way Imagineering approaches things, everything is story-driven,” he said. “I’d like to get into that, so I wrote a whole backstory around a logging company that’s been turned into a tourist attraction. Everything about the ride was driven to that. The trains are actual steam engines, the front ends of them. It’s a whole story-driven experience. That’s how the best theme park attractions are built. It immerses you in the whole experience.”

Crosskno described the unique story behind his “White Mountain Railroad” on his YouTube video, which featured the completed ride in all its glory.

“The story of White Mountain Railroad begins in the late 1800s with the White Mountain Logging Co., which operated until the 1940s,” he said. “The rail lines had been built without blasting through the mountain to create tunnels, as it was cheaper for the money-hoarding management. Two tracks were created, one was the longer but slower route, and the other was a faster, more direct route to the bottom. As the years went by, the operation began to decline, and the mill closed sometime in the 1940s.

“The management decided to leave everything where it was since most of the equipment was too outdated to be sold and it was cheaper to leave the rotting railroad tracks than to remove them,” he said. “The operation sat abandoned for many years until a couple of urban explorers caught wind of the railroad and decided to have a look for themselves. What they found was a railroad that resembled the twists and drops of a roller coaster, and a light bulb went off. About a year later, the ‘White Mountain Switchback Railroad’ officially opened, allowing riders to ride along the slower and more scenic route of the railroad.”

The ride is a pride point for the Georgia State University sophomore, who said he had never taken an engineering class until he entered college.

“Not one engineering class,” Crosskno said. “There’s a little bit of math involved, like the width of the track ties, but most of it was trial and error. I approach things like, ‘Just go out there and do it.’ ”

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