Rollercoasters - History of Rollercoasters
In theme parks throughout the world, tourists pay heavily for the thrill of flying through the air. Today rollercoasters remain a top attraction around the world, as they provide a sense of fear, thrill, and excitement in a relatively safe environment.
The first rollercoaster was built in around Saint Petersburg Russia during the 17th century. The rollercoaster, which is relatively short for today's standards, stood at its highest 80 feet tall, and had a single 50 degree drop. Constructed with wood, the Russian design was relatively sturdy and was a huge hit for both the country's citizens and it's upper class.
In the United States, the development of the rollercoaster came about for a much more practical purpose. In Summit Hill, Pennsylvania a mining company had built a railway to deliver coal between the top and valley of a hill on which it was sitting. Nicknamed "Gravity Road", the miners provided thrilling rides in the mining cars for 50 cents a ride on days when it wasn't getting much use by the company.
Stemming from this idea, LaMarcus Adna Thompson built a similar design in Brooklyn, New York in 1884. However, this early roller coaster was solely designed for thrill seeking adventurers that would pay to ride on the 600-foot track. Soon after he added onto the track to make it a closed circuit coaster, meaning that riders would end in the same place they began.
Rollercoasters in the United States continued to advance throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Until 1959, however, these coasters were all built of wood. During this year the Disneyland theme park began using steel to construct it's coasters for the very first time. As steel can be bent in numerous directions, the use of this material allowed for more flexible coasters that could incorporate corkscrews, loops, and many other types of special maneuvers.
Today, steel retains its rightful place in the construction of most modern coasters. However, wooden coasters are still occasionally built. Rollercoasters have excited thrill seekers for hundreds of years, and with more modern advancements being thought up every day, these coasters will continue to excite riders for many centuries to come.