The Switchback Railway, a rocky-wooden ride at Coney Island, was the first roller coaster constucted as an amusement ride in America. It was first designed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1881, and built three years later in 1884. The idea for this coaster was most likely inspired by the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway, a scenic coal-mining train in the tall mountains of Pennsylvania. When the mine was tapped out, the track was converted to a tourist attraction in 1827, and included a swift drop that went at a speed of 65 mph.
The Switchback Railway cost five cents per rider. The customers would climb a tower to enter the coaster, then ride at a speed of six miles per hour along a 600 foot trail to another tower, where the cart switched to a return track; hence the name, Switchback Railway.