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John Miller: Father Of The Roller Coaster

1230 words - 5 pages

Every year an estimated 290 million people all over the world flock to amusement and theme parks to experience the thrills and excitement of the modern day roller coaster. (Boldurian 16). Now thousands of people a day can safely experience the G-forces that an astronaut or fighter pilot would experience in flight. "The Revolution" a roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia California gives riders an amazing 4.9 Gs; that is 1.5 more than an astronaut at launch. (Boldurian 16). These G-forces create thrills and fear and excitement in all who ride them. But the truth is that there is no reason to fear. Roller Coasters are exceptionally safe. The mortality rate for roller coasters is one in 90 million, and most of the fatality occurred due to failure to follow safety guidelines. (Boldurian 17). But roller coasters have not always been this safe. One of the first coaster attractions was actually just a mine rail designed to bring coal to the base of the mountain (Lemelson-MIT Program). The attraction was a thirty minute ride, with speeds of more than one-hundred miles per hour. As time went on entrepreneurs in the late 1800's began creating “quick buck cheap thrill attractions.” These early coasters lacked safety for the sake of thrills. This changed when John A. Miller engineer and roller coaster designer began making coasters. John Miller held over 100 patents many of which were for roller coaster safety and functionality that are still used today (Lemelson-MIT Program). John Miller's inventions and improvements to the roller coaster make him the father of the modern roller coaster that we know today.
John Miller was born in 1874 and at the age of 19 he began working with roller coaster engineer and designer LaMarcus Thompson. Tompson is accredited for having created the first roller coaster in the United States in Coney Island, New York. John Miller quickly rose as Thomson's chief engineer (Lemelson-MIT Program). Together Miller and Thompson laid the foundation for roller coaster technology (Cartmell 119). They created hundreds of different roller coasters devices and together filled hundreds of patents. One of their most famous creations was the "Scenic Railway"(Cartmell 47). Cartmell explains, ”It was a revolutionary ride combining new mechanics with the finest ideas then in practice, the adoption of the returning track; construction of an articulated train; a device under the lead car that automatically gripped a moving cable on contrast combined with a sensitive trigger release; and steam power and cables to lift cars up inclines (Cartmell 47).” It was one of the most innovative coasters ever built, giving Miller a large portfolio that allowed him to continue to progress in his ability and career.
In, 1911 Miller worked as a consultant for Philadelphia Toboggan Company, where he designed at least a dozen roller coasters. Later on he worked for several different companies designing roller coasters and other ride...

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