thrill rides

David Boyle, flickr Creative Commons

Roller coasters are the workhorse of the modern theme park, but their rise to popularity has been long and strange.

Its precursor could be found outside of St. Petersburg in the 1800s. Massive ice slides called Russian Mountains were reinforced with wood, plunging up to seventy feet at sharp angles.

We can still see this origin in the words for “rollercoaster” in romance languages like Spanish— La Montaña Rusa—and other variations in French, Italian and Portuguese. Strangely, the Russian term literally translates as “American Mountains.”