On This Day…

Roller Coaster

June 16, 1884

The first commercially-successful gravity-powered American roller coaster goes into operation. The “Switchback Railway” at Coney Island, N.Y charged 5¢ a passenger and averaged $600 a day. Riders would climb a tower to board a large bench-like car and were pushed off to coast 600 ft (183 m) traveling at about 6 mph (9.7 km/h) down the track to the other tower. At the top of the other tower the vehicle was switched to a return track or “switched back.”