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Who Invented The Roller Coaster?

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Imagine yourself sitting in a small car with just a lap bar pulled down across your legs. Your car is slowly creeping up a giant hill, there is no way for you to stop your car and even though you know there is a steep drop on the other side of the peak, you do not want to car to stop or even slow. The anticipation is growing and your heart is pounding! The peak is moving closer.

Promenades Aeriennes (The Aerial Walk)The first roller coaster in the world, the Aerial Walk, France. Photo by Adam Sandy.

The rush of going downhill

The car starts to top the peak and nothing is seen in front of you except the clear blue sky, suddenly with no notice your car plummets towards the earth! You and your car are tossed left then right, up and down, at high speeds, the thrill, the excitement! The roller coaster was created for these feelings of heart pounding excitement. Continue reading to find out just who to thank.

Les Montagues Russes a Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville)Russes a Belleville. ©Adam Sandy.

The first roller coaster

The first roller coaster in the world were invented by the French and there were 2 of them. One is called the Les Montagues Russes a Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) and the Promenades Aeriennes (The Aerial Walk). It was built in 1812 and both had locks to secure the cars to the track. The Aerial Walk featured a heart-shaped layout.

Summit Hill

There was a mining company in Summit Hill, PA that had created a gravity railroad called the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad in 1827. It was developed in use of delivery of coal to the town of Mauch Chunk. Then by the 1850s it became known as the Gravity Road. It would cost thrill seekers just fifty cents to take a ride down the almost 9 mile track. This spurred other railway companies to develop tracks of the like in order to gain more profits when ridership was low.

LaMarcus Adna Thompson

LaMarcus Adna Thompson took the idea of the downhill rail track called the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad, and used it to design his own roller coaster. His coaster consisted of a bench that was situated on a track it would travel down a hill that started in a tower some 600ft up. When it reached the end the riders would have to walk up another tall tower to ride the track back.

Phillip Hinkle

Phillip Hinkle is credited with the first full-circuit coaster. It had a lift hill that would carry the car up to the top of another hill to allow the passengers a round trip of the coaster without having to get off and trek up another tower for a return ride.

More on roller coasters: Facts about roller coaster.