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Roller Coasters: Topics in Chronicling America

Roller coasters became popular in amusement parks soon after their creation in the late 1800s. This guide provides access to materials related to “Roller Coasters” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Curling America's spine with death-defying thrillers." August 14, 1908. Perrysburg Journal (Perrysburg, OH), Image 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

With breathtaking 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 in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


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.