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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

This Exists... Because of A Lady

That Time Catherine the Great Invented the Roller Coaster

The Russian winter has been a historical force, a fact of climate that rules from Napoleon to Hitler have underestimated to their great detriment, and undoubtedly a killer of millions.

Oh, but it also might have inspired Catherine the Great to make the roller coaster? Well then all is forgiven.

Here’s how it went: back in the late 1700′s, it was a (mostly) local Saint Petersburg tradition to pile snow and ice up in two 70-80 foot high hills, reinforced with wooden supports. Excitement seekers would climb up one specially built tower, get on a sled, and speed down a 50 degree slope, reach a stop just in time to climb up the second tower, sled all the way back… you’re familiar with the physics involved, I’m sure.

This was all well and fine, until Catherine of Russia decided that she’d never put up with being called Catherine the Well and Fine and these ice slides (known as Russian Mountains) shouldn’t either. She wanted to be able to ride in the middle of the summer, and so she had a version of it built involving wheeled carts instead of sleds and grooved tracks instead of snow in the Gardens of Oranienbaum in Saint Petersburg in 1784.

The rest was history. Well, until the French invented the loop (tested with sandbags, monkeys, and finally one actual human being) sixty years later.

(via Wired.)


  • Anonymous

    Yet another reason Catherine rocks, as if I needed further proof.  I liked that when she tired of a lover, she would annex his country.  Russian history is amazing!

  • Matthew Lane

    An people wonder why people think she died having sex with a horse, in a contraption she had invented… Its not true mind you, but after seeing this doo-dad, you could see why the rumour keeps on cropping up. Its not true folks, it never happened. :D

  • Gabriela Alonso

    Fun fact! In spanish we use the name Russian Mountain (Montaña Rusa) for rollercoasters.

  • Monica Nikole Rodriguez

     Haha. I was just going to say that!

  • Anonymous

    “You +1′d this publicly. Undo
    When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”

  • Anonymous

    This is one of those parallel evolution things – local coal mines in the PA area would allow people to climb into the coal carts and be rolled down the tracks, without seatbelt or anything, at speeds that stagger the imagination.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    They call them Montaignes Russes in French! :) I always wondered why. :D

  • Kath

    People think she died having sex with a horse because she was well known for being a bit of a get around, and probably tried it as they’re noted for their… uh… virility.

    Oh, and it was slander intended to demonise her, of course.

  • Anonymous

    Journalism in a nutshell.

  • Anonymous

    How can u die by haveing sex with a horse?

  • Anonymous

    how do you have sex with a horse

  • Anonymous

    how do you have sex with a horse (hoe)