I have a really simple question but can't seem to find the answer anywhere online...
What was the first roller coaster to use under the track wheels? I know John Miller patented it. I thought it was the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood but am not completely sure.
I don't know if there is a definitive answer to that one. Jack Rabbit may well be the earliest example today of a coaster that was built that way from the beginning, but I don't know that it was the first. I am away from my references at the moment, but if I remember correctly, the Cartmell book refers to the use of some kind of upstop protection on both the push cars of the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway (1827) and on the cars on Aerial Walks (1826).
Certainly Miller had all of the patents, because that was his method. But you might take a look at the patent references on Dr. Canfield's Amusement Ride Patents page: http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/v/a/vac3/rcpathome.html
At a glance, it seems the earliest patent he has found for an upstop scheme is actually credited to Thomas Alcoke in 1885...if I remember correctly he is also the one who thought to hook the ends of Thompson's track together to create full circuit. That, or he turned the seats to face forward, I forget which. I suspect that the concept of putting some part of the chassis below the rail to lock the train in place is such an obvious idea that ipt may not have been patentable, but patents could certainly be granted for particular implementations of an upstop safety system.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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