Our first episode sheds light on the Automobilen Snakerun, Swedens first commercial skatepark. This episode is a recount of stumbling upon this mysterious park and outlines its lucrative history as it matches up with some of the oldest parks still existing today. For decades its slipped under the radar and been left to rot on the beautiful Swedish countryside, completely out of sight.
All images and videos can be found here
A special thanks to the following people for helping out with sending over great material and also tracking down the image of TA.
Pål Kalle Ericksson - Tracking down the photo of TA
Mattias Wiberg - Providing photos
Anders Löwander - Providing photos
William Hörmarker - Providing photos
Anders Almseger - Providing photos
Johan Hillnäs - Filling in the blanks on some of its build history.
Hello everybody and thank you very much for tuning in to skate spot pod now my name is Tim Findlay and I'm a skateboard Enthusiast and I also have a love for history and what I'm trying to do on this podcast is combine both of those things and hopefully reach like-minded individuals who find the same things interesting as myself. Now this is my first podcast this is my very first episode so a really warm welcome to everybody thank you for tuning in grab a beer, grab a coffee wherever you're at and I hope you find this stuff interesting.
So before I dive into the specifics of this first skate park a little information about myself my name is Tim Finlay I'm 36 years old I am originally from Australia but for the last seven years I've been living in Sweden. Now this first episode is something that is quite personal for me because this park that I discovered actually reintroduced my love for writing and research and it's taken me to places that I never thought that I would get to it's really the sole reason that I came up with the idea to create this podcast so I really wanted to start with this place because it really holds a little piece of sentimentality in my heart and it's something that has really unveiled all of these interests and these things that I've loved doing that I really haven't done for many years.
So my story really begins it was just an average spring day and when spring comes around in Sweden you start to get pretty stoked because the weather gets warmer you can actually skateboard or start to skateboard outside for anybody who lives in colder climates they dump like this with these small rocks down on the grounds kind of like an anti-slip mechanism you really can't skateboard on the streets or do anything really you've got to go to indoor parks so it's super annoying. So during spring they remove all these things the leaves start to come out birds are chirping and it's a real period that you kind of get this pep for life I guess you feel like the Winter's over there's some hope now that the spring is coming around and eventually summer will be here. So it's one of these spring out afternoons and I'm just on Google Maps trying to look for some cool skate spots now I don't really like kind of the modern skating style I've never been super good at it but as a kid I surfed a lot so the surf skate style is something that I really prefer to do and it's always like striking gold when you find a good ditch or you find a good bank even a drain, it's kind of the perfect landscape to do carving do turns all those sorts of things and that's what I was doing just sort of scoping around on the west coast of Sweden on Google Maps and just trying to see if there was anything that stuck out. So after burning two and a half hours or something doing this I managed to spot what looked like this big chunk of concrete, now there is a town on the Southwest coast called Falkenberg and it's not a huge town it's more of sort of like a summer town this is where this sort of pile of concrete was located and it wasn't directly in the city of Falkenberg it's a little bit outside in a town called Olofsbo, now my Swedish pronunciation is pretty bad let's say that again Olofsbo, yeah it's pretty difficult so I see this big chunk of concrete and the funny thing was is that it actually had like a pin a Google pin. Now from that pin there wasn't that much information it just said that it was a historical landmark there was nothing else there's no photos nothing so it's got my curiosity going, it was also a little bit strange because it was on kind of like a country property there's a few sort of houses around it it really looked like a junkyard because there was just sort of what we could make out sheds and different things that are around it but it looked a pretty decent size I was just really curious about it.
So before actually going down and checking it out for myself I contacted a guy who lives down that way and I just asked him, do you know what this is? Sent him through just a screenshot from my phone and he got back to me super fast and yeah I was right it actually is a skatepark and the funny thing is he said to me is he said that it was actually a place where a lot of Swedish kids in the 70s and 80s learned how to skate board, so for me that was really cool because this must be a pretty iconic Park and it's actually an old park which is really really cool, so now that it was verified that it was actually a park I needed to go down and check it out for myself and in the spring of 2021 that's exactly what I did.
So I'm driving down there and I've got the coordinates locked in my phone and I'm getting closer and closer to the pin and then there's sort of like a driveway, it look like a private driveway, so the map's telling me I should drive in there, so I go into this driveway and then when I arrive there's five or six guys out the front doing some I think it was yard work, I don't know they were fucking digging something they looked at me like super suspiciously and I pull up one guy comes over and he starts to talk to me, now this guy was actually the owner he had acquired the property only around a year ago and I think he was basically doing some preparations for wanting to do some expansion I think build some apartments and things like that there so he comes over and he's pretty friendly and I just asked him like look I've seen on the map that there is a skatepark here and I've just driven down from Gothenburg and can I check it out and even skate it. He said yeah that's fine a few people come through here every now and then to check this place out, so I instantly was thinking wow this is something special here he said to me that it's going to be pretty difficult to skate because it is full of water so we're starting to get pretty disappointed at that point in time but it uh yeah I was really really curious so he told me where to park my car I got out of the car and I grabbed my skate deck and like it's super surreal I don't know it's I'm gonna try the as best as I can to explain what it felt like when I actually stumbled across this park because it's something that's stuck in my mind for a long time that first viewing of this place. So get out of the car and then you go past they almost look like Farmers sheds and you go through there and they're like rusted and there's stuff everywhere and then you start to see these sort of abandoned cars there's Caravans there's all this sort of stuff and and then the first thing I actually spotted after getting through kind of the junk was this u-pipe and it was just the frame the the u-pipe is just rusted it's you know got trees that are like growing over and all these sorts of things and that was the first thing that caught my eye and then from looking at the u-pipe I'm kind of like my vision kind of steered away from that a bit and then you get to this really really dilapidated old set of stairs that go up to this this Boardwalk. So go over to that and it's rotted there's like beams missing out of the out of the steps and and you know you're kind of just hoping that it doesn't fall through and all this sort of shit falls on top of you but then once you're up there, basically the stairs take you to the boardwalk and then the boardwalk overlooks this, yeah it's just awesome this old 70's style snake run it's not huge it's only 35 meters but it is really deep I don't know the specifics of the depth but it's just not from this time. What's surrounding it is just bush so it's just like real weeds trees and all this sorts of stuff it just it just looks like why is this thing here it's so so out of place but the run is so iconic and then you do have more of that like like the traditional skate run that loops around and then you've got kind of these transitions that are quite steep and quite sketchy but the thing is is that the centre of the Run you've got this dip or this big gutter it's just almost looks like this big pothole that you kind of can roll into and then roll out with a lot of speed it's just amazing and my first vision of this was just I don't know it was like something from an Indiana Jones film I'm like fuck why is it like this and how is this place just fallen off the map when these old Parks there's not much of them left in the world and it's just so fucking iconic.
So after I'm taking all that in I get really disappointed because it is as the owner said the whole thing is unskateable it's completely engulfed in water there's branches there's mud there's all this sort of stuff poking out it looks like the fucking Loch Ness Monster's gonna come up and fucking snatch you when you start right down into it it's just an absolute mess. There's also huge cracks in the concrete and the terrain is super super rough so I'm standing there and I'm thinking it's amazing but it's also looks like shit and my mind's kind of racing like how has it been left to get to this point so the owner comes back over I don't know he's just kind of checking up on me I guess because I am on his land, we just had a bit of a conversation around the park and all these sorts of things and you know he obviously understood some of its value you know he said to me that he was at some point going to restore it but you never know if you're kind of not a skater of yourself it's a little bit hard to really take these sort of things in and see their their value and it's also on quite a big chunk of his land so if he is doing development and all those sorts of things I was feeling a little bit worried that maybe the owner could just kind of bulldoze it and this thing is just disappears into Oblivion.
So knowing I couldn't skate it I ended up just pulling up my phone and just taking some photos taking some videos just getting some evidence of this place because I just had a feeling that it's days were numbered I didn't really know anything about the exact date of it or anything like that I just know from the guy that I contacted that if kids were skating at the 70s it's got to be a pretty old park and and up there with some of these iconic Parks from from that era. Now it would be a good idea to check out the links that I've provided in the podcast description below because I think it's it's going to put into context exactly what this place looks like and it's it's good for the audience just to check those out.
So after taking some photos and taking some videos and having a chat with the owner I got in the car and I drove back home. I didn't really do anything else about this place for at least I say a good six months but this park was on my mind like it was stuck in my memory every day I would think about it, I'd have the pictures and videos on my phone and it sounds kind of corny but it felt like this park was in some way just trying to like reach out to me or something I don't know I felt really connected to it and it just had this massive effect on me. So I'm kind of letting it mull over in my head for months and months and months and I just got so curious that I needed to really do some research and try and figure out as much about this place as I possibly could.
So my first actions taken in doing research was just doing some basic searches now the information that I had is that it was called Automobilen and it was a snakerun so quite obviously I searched for those two things. There was a couple of results that popped up the first one is a Swedish based site they have a whole bunch of different skate spots that they list throughout Sweden and I guess the first thing that struck me from jumping on this site was the fact that it said it was the first commercial skate park to be built in Sweden so right there and then I was like shit okay this is super important the second thing is that it actually mentioned that Tony Alva rode it during his first European tour in in 1978 so now I had this date of 1978 and I'm thinking all right that's still pretty old and that stacks up pretty well compared to some of the oldest Parks still existing in the world. There's a couple of other images on this side as well, there was some more modern shots I think taken from early to mid 2000s of the park when it did look in much better shape than it does now there was also some old pictures that were taken from newspapers as well but they weren't very very clear it was obviously black and white and you couldn't really see too much of the snakerun itself but there was a couple of those images circulating. Apart from that there wasn't a great deal of other information. I jumped on to Instagram and also Facebook and there is sporadically a couple of pictures that people have put up but not much information around it it was just kind of still pretty limited.
So what I had the idea of doing then was actually getting onto Facebook and creating a group so as I finished creating the group I managed to find some old school skater groups, I joined those and basically just started posting the photos and videos that I found of the snakerun in an attempt to get some interest and get some more information from some of the guys who were actually alive and skating in the 70s and that actually had a really big impact to be honest. So there's one guy who sent through some photos that his father had taken in 1979 also him on the u-pipe as well so there were some other photos that were sent through from the 1980s I think it was around 85 86. Then there is some content from sort of early 2000s up to 2010. there's also some videos as well that are on YouTube there's some guys casually skating in the mid-2000s and there's a clip on YouTube of the Swedish skateboarding championships that were held in 1997 and they were taken place at the Automobilen Snakerun. So apart from getting some great photos I was actually sent through a link to an article and this article was basically talking about the booming of skateboarding in the 1970s in Sweden and this article was called the concrete wave and this article was written by a Swedish guy called Gunner Almavik, so there's a brief paragraph in this article that mentions the Automobilen Snakerun and I managed to get some really good information from this. So I got a date of when it was built and that was 1978 there was also some other photos on that article as well and there was one of the the u-pipe this was taken in 2011 and it was obviously in terrible shape then you can see the kind of broken Plexiglas that still existed at that point, when I checked it out there was just a frame left but it was great I got to read a little bit more about the park I've now got a specific date of when it was built and from there I felt okay but let's just go and check out where this park actually Stacks up against other Parks throughout the world that still exists from this era.
I naturally started just searching around in Europe and the first thing that popped up was the Rom skatepark in the UK, the thing that struck me was the fact that the Rom was actually built in 1978 as well and the article was actually from a English newspaper stating that this park had gained a Grade 2 Heritage listing which means that it had been recognized as being a historical landmark and was actually protected, so this was a real eye-opener for me because the Rom was built in the exact same year as the Automobilen snakerun, the Rom's been protected it's been done up people are still skating it to this day yet a stones throw away there's another Park in Sweden with this same type of significance that's just fucking rotting it's just completely abandoned and forgotten. So the information that I pulled together from what I could find of these few sites and the media that I had pulled together from the Facebook group I thought let's try and have a bit of a stab in the dark here and contact a couple of skateboarding magazines that may take an interest to this I got a really fast reply from Confusion Skateboarding Magazine and I got a response from the editor Jonathan Hay and he was really pumped and he thought it was a great idea so that was super helpful and I was just really grateful that somebody else thought it was a cool story. So knowing that confusion was going to publish this in an article it was real go time for me to dive into the research as hard as I possibly could because I wanted to make this article bulletproof and also make it as interesting and show people why they should give a shit about this park.
So the first place actually started with my research was trying to find some old newspaper articles about the skatepark, as I mentioned like there's very limited information online so I thought that this could be the best way to try and put some of those pieces of the puzzle together and fill out the article as best I could. So I managed to find this online newspaper database and this database was run by the Kings library in Stockholm. Now when you're searching this database it's a little bit difficult because you can't actually get the full article in front of you, you just put keywords that you want in and then you kind of get these little extracts, those extracts will just mention parts of the sentence in which match the keywords that you search for so I had to keep it pretty basic and I was just searching for anything around skateboarding the name Automobilen and snakerun, uh the location in Falkenberg. So the filters that you can use in this database are pretty good I knew that it was built in 1978 so I just narrowed it down. So I'm kind of browsing through from this and there wasn't that many results which is positive and a negative I was thinking was actually a positive because I think I'd scrolled through about two or three pages and then I actually got a hit there was a small extract that I could see it was mentioning the location in Falkenberg and it was mentioning actually Automobilen and as well and from what you can see it gives you a hit to say that there's actually an image present, I know that this had to be something that was talking about the snakerun. So from that you have to go through the process of ordering them and you you can order them in PDF format and they come in about a week or so I had a bit of a bit of delayed gratification I couldn't get them instantly which is a bit annoying.
So while I'm waiting for these articles to be sent through to me I got another hit coming from the old school skateboarders group on Facebook and it mentioned that there was actually a guy who was making a documentary about the snakerun and this guy's name was Jonathan Lomar so I got his contact details and I just sent him an email and just basically asked them how he was going with the documentary about the fact that I was also looking into the snakerun because I went down there the previous year and I was super taken back by and all these sorts of things and Jonathan got back to me pretty fast you know he was also pretty stoked that there was a little bit more interest generating. So we had a bit of a dialogue over email I sent him through a whole bunch of stuff that I was looking into and also some of the images and things that I found and he actually mentioned that there was a push to have the park listed as a historical landmark back in 2008 it was actually submitted on behalf of the same guy who wrote the article the concrete road that I mentioned earlier his name was Gunner and he submitted an application to the local Council along with another Swedish guy called Lars. So what was surprising from what Jonathan said the application was actually rejected so the local Council came up with this sort of bullshit excuse around that the park was way too dilapidated to be listed as a historical landmark. The whole reason it should be listed as a historical landmark is so that it can be protected and restored and it doesn't decay anymore so it just seemed really convoluted and a bit of a bullshit response so I was even more pissed off at that point and the fact that the local Council obviously didn't give two shits about it so they'd be happy for it to kind of sit on private land and rot and meanwhile those councils are building other modern parks for hundreds of thousands of dollars but for them to actually protect something from the 1970s as this unique and they won't do that I thought it was just absolute rubbish.
So after it had like a good amount of conversation with Jonathan I managed to get the articles sent through from the King's Library in Stockholm now this was really really exciting so they sent through a PDF that is the whole newspaper from where these articles existed and you're scrolling through scrolling through not really saying anything that's relevant and then boom there was this big article and this big picture of the Automobilen and snakerun and the picture that's there is of a guy and he is sitting on the top of the snakerun on more of a profile view and behind him there's a couple of kids that are doing some tricks. Now the little caption underneath said that this was the owner and the owner's name was Olle Andersson so now that I've got the name of the owner who built this thing, it felt like a few more pieces of the puzzle were starting to fit. So as I'm reading the article it gave some really good information now the first thing that I read that was really surprising was the fact that the owner he had no idea about skateboarding until two weeks before he submitted an application for the building permit. There's also some other information in regards to where the park is located. So as I mentioned earlier it's located just outside of a town called Falkenberg on the Southwest coast of Sweden but the place being called Automobilen, this isn't significant to the actual snakerun Automobilen is in reference to the fact that the property is originally a Roadhouse and it was a Roadhouse when the skatepark was built and that wasn't actually the only thing it was it was a nightclub it was a go-kart track and it was a whole bunch of other small little businesses so it was kind of like this mismatch of different things and the skate park was just another one of those compliments to the place I guess.
So knowing a little bit of history about the 1970s boom of skateboarding I think there was a lot of people that were trying to cash in on the popularity of the sport so I think that Olle probably knew that there was some money to be made in skateboarding and he put this park together for the fact of charging admission and just trying to earn a couple of bucks. As I kept reading through the article it mentioned that the park was going to be inaugurated the following week and that was really interesting because then I could kind of piece together a bit of an estimate of when the park was opened. So the newspaper article was dated the 2nd of July 1978 and this was actually a Sunday so somewhere between the 3rd and the 9th of July the park opened, now I've always been trying to keep searching for an actual article that mentioned specifically the opening just to try and get a bit of a time stamp but as far as I know there's nothing that exists so it's in that window between the third and the 9th of July 1978 when the park was open. So proving that the online database for the Articles actually provided with a good hit I jumped back on there and was really trying to find anything in reference to the opening which I mentioned before I could never find but what I did actually find was a few more articles that were written and they weren't specifically talking about the snake run but they were following Sweden's first skateboard board team and this skateboard team was called The Carter team. Now the Carter team were down at the Automobilen and snakerun kind of doing like some trials and testing on the place before it was actually opened, the article also mentioned the specific names of the people who were in The Carter Skateboard Team and from there I thought it would be a good point to try and reach out and contact these guys to see if they have any information about the park or they actually have any like original photos from them skating it. Now there wasn't a huge amount of photos in this article but there was a couple of small ones and I thought that trying to get the originals for these would be amazing.
So in Sweden you can basically look up anybody's details online so I had the names of these guys and I roughly knew how old that they would be at this point in time and what I found out which is actually really sad is that all of this team except for one guy have actually passed away. Now the only existing Survivor from The Carter Team he had his details online and I just sent him through an actual text message because I thought that that would be maybe the most straightforward forward way to kind of approach him and he was super responsive and we started to kick off an email conversation and he gave me some really really great information what I wasn't aware of. The Carter Team actually helped Olle Andersson come up with the design and this kind of makes sense because as Olle had no idea about skateboarding really he needed to have people who were involved in the sport and knew what they were talking about. Some other interesting things were the fact that he mentioned that the park was built really really quickly and the quality wasn't the best so it started to deteriorate pretty fast and what was interesting is that I could actually see that from some of the 80s shots that were sent through on Facebook you can start to see some of the cracks in the concrete and it's starting to look a little bit sketchy even in the mid 80s so the fact that he developed this thing pretty fast and also him not really having much of a history of skateboarding wasn't the best combination in the end.
There was one day where I jumped on YouTube and I don't know I'd been on YouTube so many times before searching for the same keywords but this time I got a different result and actually saw this one thing pop up there was a video from a news channel in Sweden and they were talking about the history of skateboarding down in Falkenberg where the park is located as I'm watching, they're talking about some of the more modern parks that have been built in the last sort of like 10 15 years and then the last sort of 50 seconds or so to actually start talking about the Automobilen and snakerun, from what I could see if some of the people interviewed they didn't really speak very highly of the owner or of the actual Park to be honest. So at the last sort of like 15 seconds of the clip they're talking to a museum curator and there was some type of like exhibition that they held at the local Museum down that way. What you can see behind her when she's being interviewed, is actually like these old original photos from the snakerun and what was interesting is that some of these pictures are the ones that are being used in the the newspaper articles that I found. So after seeing this I knew I just had to track these down I also got the Museum's name and it was a cultural History Museum of Halland. Now Halland is basically like the state of where Falkenberg is located so I reached out to the cultural Museum and they said they didn't have any images and they didn't have any information about the snakerun so what I ended up doing was linking this video that I found on YouTube and saying that they had some type of exhibition there but the exhibition was around in like 2010 2011 so I was even skeptical whether or not these things had still existed. So I actually got one lady who finally reached out to me from the museum and she found the images that we used in this exhibition now there was tons of images and they're all taken from the same day and majority of these images I don't think have really ever been seen, from what I could see it was just great there was so many shots of the actual Carter Team who were down there doing trials on the park and this was definitely the most extensive photography collection that I know of the snakerun that that does exist.
She also sent me the actual application that Gunner and Lars submitted to the local Council to try and get the snakerun listed as a historical landmark and this article was like a gold mine for me and there were so many pieces of the puzzle that got put together after I read this application. So it states that the building permit was approved on the 20th of June and now when I'd found that article talking about the opening that was dated the 2nd of July 1978. So between the 20th of June and the 2nd of July he'd built this 35 meter concrete snake run which is pretty fucking crazy if you think about it and also the fact that this guy had no idea about skateboarding until two weeks before he sent in the application for it to be approved it's nuts and this also is probably a reason why it deteriorated so fast. There's also a little bit of information about the u-pipe and the u-pipe wasn't always located near the snakerun so the u-pipe was actually placed at the entrance to the Roadhouse and this was really some type of marketing stunt that Olle was trying to pull off. Now whether skateparks actually located it's actually on the Old Highway that used to link all the smaller towns from the bigger cities so coming from Gothenburg all the way down to the third largest city in Sweden called Malmö, so obviously it being on a Roadhouse is a good location for passers-by who are going to stop they're going to gas up for fuel maybe have a bite to eat all those sorts of things so Olle is probably thinking okay put the u-pipe there we'll capture those people going on holidays or taking a trip down south whatever it is and they'll know that oh wow look there's something to do with skateboarding here and he can try and make as much money on as possible. But what ended up happening in the Autumn of 1978 is that he actually had no permit for the u-pipe to stand where it was so he had to move the thing and he ended up placing it next to the snakerun where it lived until it was actually completely removed in 2022. So now this was a bit of an indication for me at that point time is really ticking for this park and I was really scared that hey maybe the snake run that just disappears into Oblivion next.
So now that I've scored all these images and also the original application that was submitted to the local Council I sent all this stuff through to Jonathan and he was overwhelmed by the old pictures that I actually found, now I knew that he could use these in his documentary because they would just fit really really well. So another few things that came about from some of my email conversations with Jonathan there had been people over the years that really had the snakeruns best interest at heart apart from Gunner and Lars who were submitting the application to the local Council there's also a restoration plan that was drawn up for the snakerun and this restoration plan was drawn up by a company who operates down in Malmö and the guy who was trying to push this restoration plan is called John Magnusson now John Magnusson is a really influential Swedish skateboarder so I kind of had a real hope at that point the fact that he was on the case and he had done the work to put a restoration plan together maybe there was some hope that this place was actually going to be restored or some kind of arrangement could be put in place for the owners of the land to make sure that it's protected and it's going to be still standing for future generations.
So I felt a little bit better after I knew that there had been some people that really cared about its value and had done as much as they possibly could to try and get this park just acknowledged and protected and up to the scratch of being skate-able for everybody to enjoy, now all this stuff is still ongoing with the restoration plan and this is something that is going to be a part of the documentary that Jonathan will be pushing out during 2023 roughly right now it's looking like it's going to come out in the Autumn of 2023 so you don't really want to miss this it's it's going to be a really really fantastic story.
If we're going back to a bit more about the application the fact that they saw it as being dilapidated is really just a small part of why this application was rejected now getting some further information from Jonathan and just some people that had talked to when doing some interviews for the documentary this park has had a real stigma that's been attached to it over the years it's just been seen as a place that is quite sketchy quite obviously the local Council they don't want to be associated with this place.
Now I was still set off on my path of getting recognition for the park I put together a lot for my article I put together the photos I put together a whole bunch of research that I'd done and that article is actually on the confusion website so the articles in the links below so I really urge you to go and check that out and give it a read it took me a great deal of time to put that together and it is still the most extensive background I guess that you will find on the park anywhere online. Now when the article was actually published it got a pretty good response so they pushed it out on social media it's had some good amount of traffic and all those sorts of things and there was also some more stories that came through so when confusion put that up on their Facebook page there was a whole bunch of people that had skated it so there was a whole bunch of people commenting that they had been there in the late 90s early 2000s some people who were skated back in the 1980s so it kind of gave some fresh blood into the place and got people talk talking about it again now when the article went live we still got a whole bunch more people that would joining the Facebook group now there's also a link to the Facebook page in the description so please check it out it's a public group you don't necessarily have to join but if you really want to read what people are talking about about the park and have a look at all the media that we pulled together then please stop by if you want to join even better the more people that we have in this community and the more people that can support the park is just a bonus for just helping the future of this place.
Now the final mystery when it came to this skatepark was the whole Tony Alva story now I didn't really know whether this was just sort of hearsay that was passed down from generation to generation and I've seen it in two sites listed that he visited the park in 1978. So this is sort of even more credibility for the park and if we could try and find something that could tie Tony Alva to it whether it's a video whether it's an image anything at all it would really help the overall cause and give this park just even more of a boost for its historical value. So I basically started scouring pictures on Pinterest Facebook Instagram everywhere from the old sort of iconic shots of TA. Now as many of you will know there was a specific photographer at that time and he was called Wynn Miller and he's taken most of the iconic shots of TA from the 1970s and 1980s and Wynn Miller was actually the photographer that toured with Tony Alva during his first European tour in 1978. Now what I found out is that he arrived in Stockholm when he came to Sweden so after we did some demos and different things in Stockholm and some places north of Stockholm he did make his way down to Gothenburg now after he had spent some time in Gothenburg its rumour has it that it did go further south, Falkenberg is around just over an hour south of Gothenburg. It was posted in the Facebook group and clarified that Tony Alva did skate it basically he mentioned that he was just down at the snakerun on an average day and out of nowhere Tony Alva just turns up and starts shredding it I mean that's pretty crazy especially for being you know late 70s don't have social media nothing like that and you're just kind of there and one of the most, well the famous and most iconic skater from that era just turns up at your local park and yeah start skating it would have just been been mind-blowing. Now when I'm scaring the entire internet to try and find anything that actually resembles the Automobilen Snakerun I couldn't come up with anything and I'd seen so many videos of Tony Alva in Sweden during 1978 but they were more taken up Stockholm way there's no documentation of him being in Gothenburg either couldn't find anything like that so I was beginning to think that yeah he probably did skate it and these guys telling the truth but everything's lost.
So the last kind of shot that I had was trying to pull together all the old skateboarding magazines from the 1970s that were published in Sweden and there was a couple that came out at the time there was one called The Skateboarding News they only released two issues so I thought that maybe they would be a good point to look at because they were both dated from 1978, I actually managed to find these two original magazines in the humanitarian library or the University Library of Gothenburg so this was actually a bit of a story in itself because I went down there and I couldn't actually take the magazines home like I had to sit in a reading room but when I got into the reading room they were like pristine they were in this sort of plastic sleeve and when I pulled both of these editions out they looked like they hadn't been touched in almost 40 years they were brand new so just that in itself was amazing. I went through those two magazines just to try to find out if there was anything about Tony Alva or any documentation and there's nothing there there is a feature from Automobilen in one of the magazines and that image I have actually seen circulating on the internet and that was one of the first images that I did see when I was researching it basically it's like a review of the snakerun a skate team went down there and they basically yeah gave a review for the magazine and and the review wasn't great they basically said it was a thumbs down to the snake run the quality wasn't the best and they were also talking about the fact that the u-pipe was really really shitty and they confirmed some of the stuff that the member of the Carter Skate Team had told me over email basically that stigma that I was talking about with the park it was really building in the early days of skateboarding there because a lot of the local kids and a lot of the magazines and skate teams they didn't really want to be associated with the place and I think the owner didn't really make it easy for people because he was trying to charge there was also new parks that were free that were opening up in some of the bigger cities so I think a lot of people just felt that Park was a little bit off the Beaten Track and they may as well skate on their local parks in in some of the bigger cities so I think that's a real reason why this place just sort of fell off the grid and quite quickly it just lost the attention and people were not interested in it basically.
I managed to get a hit through the Facebook group again and a group member actually posted a photo that was taken by Wynn Miller of Tony Alvar doing kind of like a bert slide at the top of this wooden ramp when I looked into this image actually before it was posted in this group because I went through so many different images of Tony Alva from the 70s and and there was a lot that was posted on Wynn Millers Instagram account this specific image Wynn Miller has always credit it to being outside of Paris but when it was posted in the group I challenged the member who posted that and he was hell-bent on the fact that this was not in Paris that this was actually taken from the start of the old slalom run that existed at the Automobilen Snakerun, this image I kind of was wanting to decode it and what you can see from this image which is very very unique is the fact that the slalom run that it's been quoted to being taken on there's a whole tree line that runs all the way down there's a kind of a white picket fence on each side and then there is a traditional Cottage on the left hand side of this image and that Cottage is really monumental to actually tying the evidence together that this picture was actually taken at the snakerun in Falkenberg and it's not taken outside Paris. So what I did I jumped on Google Maps and I went to street view and put myself at the front of the Roadhouse now these traditional Cottages they still exist on the land and I had to work some different angles on street view just to kind of line it up and boom it is clear as day that that Cottage on the left hand side of the photo is the one that's represented in this shot by Wynn
Miller so the chimney is exactly the same there's sort of this intricate kind of woodworkings on the sort of A-frame of the house you can see that there's like a wooden skirting board that runs around the more of the white exterior of the cottage it is really really uncannily unmistakably taken at Automobilen. The other part which has even more evidence for this shot is the actual tree line and that run still exists so for me it was 100 evidence that this very very iconic shot that's been circulating for so many years is actually from Automobilen and again it just ties together the unlucky circumstances that this park has fallen into and it couldn't even have been properly credited by Wynn Miller to being taken there it feels like it's just been failed on so many levels that's something that I wanted to clear up and I really wanted to have this attributed to Automobilen. I also got an old photo that was sent through of the slalom run it's not the exact same angle that was taken from that shot of Alva but it is very very similar the ramps the same the white picket fence is the same you can see the same type of tree lines and the evidence is just overwhelming that this shot was taken at Automobilen and not taken in France.
So as it stands today it is still a very very fragile set of circumstances the park still exists it is obviously on private land and the owners haven't tried to remove it yet so there's a lot of things here that are still flying in the air right now but exposure getting people talking about it getting it recognised for its heritage having it circulate in social media having the documentary come out next year are very very important it deserves credit and at the end of the day it's just a very very mystical cool place that should be protected for future generations to escape there's already so many memories and so many stories attached to this park it would just be a travesty if one day it was demolished and it was wiped from the skateboarding world.
I would love to hear your thoughts about my first podcast if you have any further questions about the snakerun or anything in general about wanting to help the situation and the cause please send them through to our Facebook page which is Surf Skate Sweden. So thank you very much for listening I hope you really enjoyed this first instalment of Skate Spot Pod, I'm going to try and drop a new podcast quite frequently so I think that there is so many other parks in the world that are either still existing or extinct that have so much history and value to skateboarding in general that I want to know more about and I also want to showcase them to people who are interested in them. So make sure you subscribe to this podcast I really look forward to releasing a new episode, thanks a lot guys.