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Demolition begins on iconic NJ coaster wrecked by Sandy

The claw of a crane tore through the structure of the Jet Star Roller Coaster Tuesday off the New Jersey coast. When Superstorm Sandy hit, the roller coaster plunged into the waves from an amusement pier where it had stood for decades.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The claw of a crane tore through the structure of the Jet Star Roller Coaster Tuesday off the New Jersey coast. When Superstorm Sandy hit, the roller coaster plunged into the waves from an amusement pier where it had stood for decades.

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — Riding the Jet Star roller coaster as a girl vacationing at the Jersey shore, Nicole Jones said there was always that one breath-catching moment when the cars swerved toward the ocean, as if threatening to dump riders into the surf.

When Hurricane Sandy hit last October, it was the roller coaster itself that plunged into the waves off the amusement pier where it had been anchored for decades.

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Work crews, making better progress on Tuesday than anticipated, began tearing down the remains of the roller coaster and placing them on a huge storage barge, which was expected to carry away the last remnants of the beloved ride within 48 hours. About half of it was gone by midafternoon.

The image of the Jet Star, sitting in the ocean, was perhaps the most enduring image of Sandy.

The ride is privately owned by Casino Pier, one of two amusement piers in Seaside Heights that were devastated by the Oct. 29 storm. Funtown Pier, at the southern end of the boardwalk, was so badly damaged it cannot open this summer, but will be back in 2014.

Casino Pier is being rebuilt and will include at least 18 rides this summer, including one called The Superstorm.

The coaster’s removal was delayed while the company wrangled with contractors over a rare engineering feat: Exactly how do you snag a roller coaster out of the sea?

In the end, they came up with a fairly simple solution. The company hired Weeks Marine, an experienced maritime contractor, to bring a barge bearing a giant crane with the same sort of grasping claw featured in miniature in so many arcades, where contestants maneuver the device and try to capture a stuffed animal.

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