National Roller Coaster Day

August 16 has been celebrated as National Roller Coaster Day since 1986. It is not entirely clear why this day was chosen, but the most usual explanation is that on August 16, 1898, the first patent for a roller coaster ride was issued to Richard Knudsen and J.G. Taylor. It seems they never actually built their ride, but they were given the patent.

The precursor to a roller coaster was created in Russia, where people slid down ice mountains on carts. Wheels were added later so that the rides could operate all year around. According to the Roller Coaster Museum, “Although the groundwork for the invention of the roller coaster was laid in Europe, the ride as we know it today developed in the United States. La Marcus Thompson is often credited as the ‘father of the roller coaster’ building a switchback railway at Coney Island in 1884. While there is no doubt that he built Coney’s Switchback Railway, it doesn’t mean that he invented, or built the first — rather, he was the best at promoting and improving it.”

Roller Coasters expanded rapidly in the 1920s. The United States had just come out of a war and was ready to express itself. Frederick Ingersoll opened Luna Park in Pittsburgh, and then shortly afterward another in Cleveland. The roller coaster rides there were very popular, with the rides themselves being created by John A. Miller. He held over a hundred patents related to roller coasters and invented much of what we think of as modern roller coasters, including the way they are able to go up such steep tracks, as well as others that make roller coasters the thrill rides they are today.

There is a Facebook page for National Roller Coaster Day. You can click here to join up with a group going to an amusement park today.

Quotes about riding the roller coaster literally or in life

You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.–Lowell Ganz

Everybody likes a roller coaster ride.–Pete Waterman

There’s something about a roller coaster that triggers strong feelings, maybe because most of us associate them with childhood. They’re inherently cinematic; the very shape of a coaster, all hills and valleys and sickening helices, evokes a human emotional response.–Diablo Cody

I do feel more myself in America. I can regress there, and they have roller-coaster parks.–Alan Rickman

I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.–John Green

Life is like a roller coaster, live it, be happy, enjoy life.–Avril Lavigne

If my life were a song it would probably be titled ‘Roller Coaster’, up and down all the time.–Scotty McCreery

The truth is that entrepreneurship is more like a roller coaster ride than a cruise.–Vivek Wadhwa

It’s kinda like being on a roller coaster. If you don’t get on the ride, you won’t experience the adventure.–Mariah Carey

My life, my career has been like a roller coaster. I’ve either been an enormous success or just a down-and-out failure.–Judy Garland

The roller-coaster is my life; life is a fast, dizzying game; life is a parachute jump; it’s taking chances, falling over and getting up again; it’s mountaineering; it’s wanting to get to the very top of yourself and feeling angry and dissatisfied when you don’t manage it–Paulo Coelho

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