National Roller Coaster Day: August 16th
In case you weren’t aware, August 16th is National Roller Coaster Day. It has been ever since the early 1980′s. It’s the one day a year that we celebrate the King of the Thrill Rides, the roller coaster.
Many people claim that August 16 was chosen as National Roller Coaster Day because August 16, 1898 was the day that the roller coaster was first patented. However, my research shows that LaMarcus Thompson was granted the first roller coaster patent in January 1884 for his Switchback Gravity Pleasure Railway at Coney Island, NY. Riders would sit in a coaster car (and I’m using that term loosely) at the top of a wooden structure, then roll straight down a 600 foot, hilly track to the bottom. An elevator mechanism would raise their car up to an identical track, but heading back the opposite direction. After rolling down the second hill, another elevator would raise them back up to where they had started. It cost 5¢ to ride and went all of 6MPH. Times have changed considerably since then!
The first patent for a vertical loop on a roller coaster was issued in August, 1898. I suppose it’s possible that this was the day chosen for National Roller Coaster Day, but I’m not sure why. Regardless of why August 16th was chosen, the point is to go out and have fun by riding a roller coaster. It doesn’t have to be a 450′ Strata-coaster, or something with 10 inversions. There are roller coasters to satisfy everyone’s personal preference. Just go have fun!
Much of this post was recycled from the National Roller Coaster Day 2012 post I wrote last year. I’ve done a little more research since then, but still haven’t found any solid evidence as to why this date was chosen. If you know why, please leave a comment and enlighten us.