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Topics in Chronicling America - Roller Coasters

With breath taking drops and “spine curling” thrills, early roller coasters delight the most daring Americans in parks across the country. As more people experienced the adventure and as the mechanics improved, roller coasters became essential rides and amusement parks began competing for the biggest and most intricate rides. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.
Picture of a roller coaster

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • 1873-1886. Early railway rides lead to the creation of America’s first roller coasters.
  • 1887-1920. The invention of the scenic railway and larger, more complex rides makes the roller coaster a must-have ride in amusement parks.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] roller coaster.
  • Use the proximity search to find the word “roller” within 5 or 10 words of “coaster.”
  • Try using some terms for early roller coasters such as scenic railway, switchback railway, thriller, etc.
  • Use the term coaster or railway in proximity to the names of early amusement parks such as the following: Coney Island, Luna Park, Lakemont, Olympus, Palisades, Starlight, etc.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  May 2, 2013
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