You wait in line for what seems like forever and finally you take your seat. You pull the paddle bars so they fit snug against your shoulders. You reach the top and then comes the big drop. You start screaming or if you're daring you put your hands up and enjoy the ride. I'm of course speaking of roller coasters. Today I'm going to go over the history, the different types of roller coasters, the mechanics, and the most important part, safety of roller coasters.
The oldest roller coaster is believed to have originated from the so-called "Russian Mountains", which were specially constructed hills of ice, located around Saint Petersburg. Built in the 15th century, the slides were built to a height between 70 and 80 feet consisting of a 50 degree drop, and were secured by wooden supports. In 1827, a mining company in Summit Hill, Pennsylvania constructed the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad, an 8.7 mile downhill track used to deliver coal to Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania, this railroad sold rides for fifty cents apiece.
Using this idea as a foundation, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began working on gravity Switchback Railway that opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in 1884. Passengers climbed to the top of a platform and rode a bench-like car down the 600 ft. track up to the top of another tower where the vehicle was switched to a return track and the passengers took the return trip. This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete circuit. In 1885, Phillip Hinkle introduced the first full-circuit coaster with a lift hill. This coaster was called the Gravity Pleasure Road, which was soon the most popular attraction at Coney Island. Not to be outdone, in 1886 LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented his design of roller coaster sthat included dark tunnels with painted scenery. "Scenic Railways" were to be found in amusement parks across the county, with Frederick Ingersoll's construction company building many of them in