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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Roller Coasters > Roller Coaster History

Roller Coaster History

Discover the history of the world's most popular thrill ride – the roller coaster. Explore this series of articles to learn about the origin and development of this legendary amusement park device.

Roller Coaster History Series


Begin your ride with a introduction from roller coaster historian Adam Sandy.

How It Started


The Beginning
The origin, it begins with a simple slide.

Early Years in America
The first American Roller Coaster is born.

Early 1900s


Roaring Twenties
The popularity boom and the sudden building craze.

Coney Island History
Sodom by the sea at America's most famous amusement parks.

Depression and World War
The dark days arrive for the Roller Coaster.

Time of Change 60s through 70s


Sixties Amusement Parks
The demise of the classic amusement park and the birth of a new breed, the theme park.

Sixties Wooden Coasters
The calm before the building storm begins again.

Theme Park Building Boom
John Allen and Kings Island make for a winning combination.

Late Seventies
The start of the modern Looping Roller Coaster.

Decade of Innovation


Enter the Eighties
Wood was put aside for more variety in steel with the debut of stand up and suspended coasters.

Late Eighties
Final years of the decade dominated with rides from Anton Schwarzkopf and Arrow.

Modern Day Scream Machines


Nineties Steel Coasters Part 1
Nineties Steel Coasters Part 2
Nineties Steel Coasters Part 3
Bigger and better Roller Coasters arrive as designers now attempt to push the limits in size and designs.

Nineties Wooden Coasters
New wooden legends in the making.

Credits and Acknowledgements


Roller Coaster History Bibliography

Designers and Innovators
Learn about the people who influenced the design and innovation of the Roller Coaster.

Harry G. Traver
A Legend... this designer is best known for his triplets of terror.

Walt Disney
The inventor and innovator of today's modern Theme Park.

Noteworthy Designers
Philadelpia Toboggan Company
National Amusement Devices
Prior & Church

Family Designers
Charles Looff
Erwin and Edward Vettel
John Perce

Roller Coaster Timeline
Through the years an outline of significant milestones in roller coaster history.