Roller Coaster and Other Ride Patents

The purpose of this site is to simplify access to roller coaster and other ride patents available in the United States Patent Office (USPTO) online database.

A short list of early roller coaster patent firsts:

First recognizable wheeled gravity amusement ride: Taylor, 1872, #128,674
First gravity ride with skid brake: Knudsen, 1878, #198,888 (fixed brake)
First closed-circuit gravity ride: Wood, 1884, #291,261
First gravity ride utilizing anti-rollback pawls: Stevens, 1884, #298,710
First use of term roller coaster: Stevens, 1884, #298,710
First automatic lifting arrangement: Hinkle, 1884, #307,942 (but see also Alexander, 1882, #269,554)
First gravity ride with lift hill extending higher than loading station: Hinkle, 1884, #307,942
First upstop mechanism: Alcoke, 1885, #310,356
First tunnel: Thompson, 1885, #310,966
First side friction wheels: Stoddard & Terwilliger, 1885, #314,626
First use of guide wheels engaging same track as road wheels: Stoddard & Terwilliger, 1885, #314,626
First use of laminated wooden track with metal plate: Stoddard & Terwilliger, 1885, #314,626
First self-steering wheel arrangement: Grant, 1888, #386,123
First racing coaster: Bormann, 1891, #450,609
First vertical loop: Prescott, 1898, #609,164
First locking seat bar: Jackman, 1903, #745,854
First pivoting chain dog: Weaver, 1905, #793,333

Important Notes:

Most patent content on this site is provided by the USPTO. For patents before 1976 (most on these pages), full text versions are not available on the USPTO site. The "Images" button will take you to both the figures and the text. Images are in the form of compressed tiff files which may not view properly in some browsers. See this USPTO page for more information about viewing the images. The figure image files are typically 30-60 kb, and the text images are usually 100-200 kb. The USPTO site is heavily used, and the images may load slowly. If the links fail to work (for example, if the syntax required to access the USPTO server that handles the requests changes, as happened in June 2006), it should be possible to visit the USPTO Patent Number search page and enter the desired patent numbers.

Alternate methods of accessing the patents include the European Patent Office site and Google Patents. The EPO site includes only patents issued in 1920 or later, and excludes design patents. Patents can be downloaded as full-document pdf files, after passing hurdles designed to prevent harvesting by automated methods. Patent numbers must be prefixed by 'US' to distinguish them from those of other nations. Google Patents provides the most convenient way to view the patents. For saving and printing, Google Patents now provides a link that retrieves patent pdfs, as well as a link to the USPTO site. A few US patents are not available on Google Patents, and links based on patent numbers sometimes break. An additional method for obtaining patent pdf files is to use

Please let me know if you encounter any errors such as bad links. I also welcome reports of relevant patents that I have missed, and additional identification of patents (such as trade or generic names).

Comments may be sent to Victor Canfield

about this site

a short list of links

This page last revised 14-Aug-2009