Houston's AstroWorld, a member of the Six Flags family, was the first theme park to introduce a river rapids style ride in 1980. Thunder River was the brainchild of the park's General Manager Bill Crandall and was developed by the ride manufacturer Intamin.
Six Flags Great Adventure soon followed up with the second such ride and the park used photographs of AstroWorld's original attraction in their 1981 pamphlet to promote the ride. Featured below are both the 1981 pamphlet panels from Great Adventure's brochure and a series of photographs that were taken at AstroWorld to capture the fun and excitement of what would soon be in store for the Jackson, NJ park.
While AstroWorld's Thunder River closed along with the rest of the Texas park in 2005, Great Adventure's Roaring Rapids (renamed Congo Rapids in 1991) has been churning its whitewater splendor for 35 seasons making it the oldest rapids style ride in the world.