Summer Time Thriller
The roller coaster has its origins in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a simple slide that took thrillseekers down an icy ramp past a variety of colored lanterns. Catherine the Great gave this custom a boost when she fitted her imperial sleigh with wheels for summer use. The next leap forward came when a French traveler beheld this odd national pastime and imported it to his homeland. Adapting the ice slide to a milder climate, the French soon learned to erect a track with a groove running down the middle. A bench with wheels was fitted into the groove, and down the Parisians went -- facing sideways. The first Cyclone Roller Coaster was opened in America in Coney Island and was made of wood. The wooden roller coasters, once a staple at every amusement park, are now becoming less popular today when compared to the newer "biggest", "tallest", "fastest" steel roller coasters.
To me, the clickety-clack of the roller coaster cars on a rickety wooden track and the screams of its passengers . . . still make the roller coasters the quintessential summertime thrill!
July 5th, 2012
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