Brief History Of Roller Coasters

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For all those who love the “fast and the furious”, literally, roller coasters are the ultimate fun ride! And for those who dread the very thought of getting into one of these rides, the sheer idea of watching these gravity-defying rides is enough to get their blood gushing. Either ways, roller coasters have been one invention of modern man that holds everybody in awe; whether in or out of it!

The First Ride:

Although it is difficult to get roller coaster enthusiasts to agree upon the “best” roller coaster in the world, historians do agree that the forerunner of the today’s roller coaster originated in Russia. In fact, the ice slides that were common in Russia during the 17th century are considered the inspiration for today’s roller coasters.

The first roller coasters were designed more like huge slides that were as tall as seventy to eighty feet and offered drops that were almost 50 degrees! Riders climbed stairs to slide down and these were designed either parallel or opposite to each; sometimes extending over a hundred feet.

The Rolling Wheels:

Although there is no historic evidence to who actually added wheels to the Russian sleds, some believe that even this is the invention of Russians; while some other credit the French for this innovation. While that debate goes, recorded history finds two roller coaster rides that incorporated the concept of cars locked to their track in the year 1817 and both were located in France! And these are considered the fore-runners of modern roller coasters.

Around the same time, America developed its version of roller coaster using the abandoned coal tracks in the mountains of Pennsylvania! Originally designed to transport coal, these rides now offered scenic tours and a bumpy, wild ride downward – all at a simple and economic rate of one dollar! Slowly these bumpy rides turned more scenic, and more bumpy, and led to the development of several such rides across America.

In fact, roller coasters were soon considered the heart of all amusement parks, including the popular ones at Coney Island and Kennywood Park. And during their hay days, there were over 2000 and odd roller coaster rides available across America!! 1920s were considered the boom time for roller coasters, or should we say – thrilling times?!

The Downward Slide:

Anything that goes up has to come down – whether it is roller coasters or their business! And the Great Depression of the 1930s followed by the Second World War in the mid-1940s ensured this.

Many of the roller coasters that set great standards and created milestones in the history of roller coasters, finally, fell prey to the wreck ball. Thanks to the dwindling economy and the social changes that followed, roller coasters fought a losing battle for the next two decades!

The Upward Swing:

But all hope was not lost; roller coaster enthusiasts across the world decided to revive and revitalize the once dominant, fun-filled rides and the 1980s saw the creation of several such rides with the help of latest developments and technology. Some enthusiasts believed in preserving the wooden coasters of early 1900s and the result was the reinstatement of these in many amusement parks at New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

Today, thanks to technology and fast-growing innovations, roller coasters have graduated from being simple slides and sledges to becoming Hyper, Mega, and Giga roller coasters! With technology no longer being a limiting factor, when it comes to blasting riders into the air, sky seems to be the only limit.

Today, roller coasters are all about reaching crazy heights at even more crazier speeds! And every year brings a new “taller, faster, and steeper” roller coaster that defies everything that already exists. While we wait with bated breath for the next crazy ride, let’s enjoy the crazy ones that already exist!!

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