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Roller Coasters

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Kyle Schaefer

on 7 May 2010

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Transcript of Roller Coasters

ROLLER COASTERS By: Kyle Schaefer The first roller coaster was an old coal cart that was used by miners in the Hauto Tunnel in Pennsylvania in 1872. The mine shaft was closed in 1873 but was later reopened and used to carry people as the first roller coaster. It was greatly successful and carried over 35,000 passengers every year. In 1874 it was bought by the New Jersey Central Railroad but it was still used to carry passengers. The first person to patent a "roller coaster" was Richard Knudsen in 1878. He called this design the "Improvement of the Inclined Railways" but unfortunatley it never opened. LaMarcus A. Thompson is said to be the "Father of the American Roller Coaster". He designed a roller coaster made up of two parallel, wavy tracks. The carts rolled down the 100 foot long and 50 foot high track at 6 mph. He called his extremely popular invention the "Switchback Railroad". It opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in 1884. In 1884, Charles Alcoke invented the first roller coaster that was a full circuit. In the following year, a man named Phillip Hinkle designed the "lift hill". The lift used chains or cables to pull the roller coaster up the first hill so the carts could gain speed for the rest of the ride.

This allowed for higher tracks and the designers became more creative with their layout, using circular design. Between the years of 1884 and 1887, LaMarcus Thompson recieved over 30 patents for roller coaster designs and ideas. He believed roller coasters should have senic views. In 1887, LaMarcus along with famous carver, James A. Griffith opened the "Senic Railway" in Atlantic City. The "Senic Railway" also was the first roller coaster to link carts together almost like a train, the roller coaster also used something else that amazed passengers, electric lights that were triggered by the cart. All of this helped the popularity and market for roller coasters in America. In 1888 the first looping roller coaster was built. It was designed by Lina Beecher, but she sold it to Captian Paul Boyton. He then used it as a Coney Island attraction called the "Flip-Flap". However there was a major flaw in the design, there was no seatbelt and when passengers would fly around the loop they would experience several G's which caused serious neck and back injuries to the passengers, causing it to quickly go out of business.

Later, in 1901, a man named Edward Prescott retried the loop design. He called his roller coaster the "Loop-The-Loop". To avoid the problems the "Flip-Flap" had he used a teardrop shape to reduce the amount of G's the riders experience. Because of the loops new shape the roller coaster could only take 4 passengers at a time, this cause this attraction to fail too. Roller coaster production greatly increased during the 1920's. Parks all over were trying to make the biggest, fastest, and scariest roller coasters to attract the most people. By 1929 there was more than 1,500 roller coasters in the United States. In the 1930's the Great Depression ended the "Golden Age" of roller coasters.
In the 1940's most of the wood and rubber was being used in World War II and parks were not able to build or repair roller coasters, this cause many to decay.
In 1948, only 368 roller coasters were still in operation out of the 2,000 that had been built.
The rebirth of roller coasters was started by one man, Walt Disney, he opened the theme park "Disneyland" in 1955 which featured the first steel roller coaster.
This shocked the growth of roller coasters and they began popping up all over again.
By the 1990's the number of major roller coasters jumped up to over 200 and in 1992 the first inverted roller coaster was built.

Roller coasters have come a long way since they were first introduced by LaMarcus A. Thompson. As time goes on roller coasters will continue to get bigger, faster and scarier. They will always be considered one of the America's greatest attractions, but as they improve we should not forget about the brilliant inventors who started it all.
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