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Russian ice mountains, the original roller coasters
February 28, 2014 1:18 PM   Subscribe

The first roller coaster was patented in the US almost 130 years ago, but what came before the patent? Russian ice slides from the late 1600s. As discussed in The Incredible Scream Machine: A History of the Roller Coaster (Google books preview), the ice slides, or Flying Mountains, started as basic frozen ramps one would ride on a block of ice, but as soon as royalty became interested, the designs improved, as discussed and depicted in this PDF. Royalty moved some of these tracks indoors, replacing ice with waxed or soaped planks. Though some sources credit an unnamed French traveler for furthering this general design towards something more akin to the modern roller coaster, but The Incredible Scream Machine gives that credit to Katalnaya Gorka (Sliding Hill) at Oranienbaum. If nothing else, the Russian origin of ice mountains lives on through the term for "roller coaster" in a number of languages translating to Russian mountain (though in Russian, it's American mountain).
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you're looking for a modern version of an ice slide, here's a video from what appears to be an actual ice ride in Floraland in Wanchunzhen, Wenjiang, Chengdu, Sichuan, China (Google maps; Theme Park Review).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:24 PM on February 28


My favorite image of a Russian ice slide is this painting (source), for the paired expressions of joy and terror. While that's not all that different from current roller coaster riders, the fact that there are none of the modern safety features makes me appreciate both emotions all the more.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:40 PM on February 28


Somewhat related video from last week: devinsupertram: Snowlercoaster. Coasting action starts at the 0:28 mark.
posted by debagel at 1:54 PM on February 28


In Soviet Union Coaster Rolls You!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:26 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


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