The first roller coaster in America was the "Switchback Railway" It opened at Coney island, as the first roller coaster designed as an amusement ride in the United States. The Switchback Railway was designed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1881, and was loosely based upon the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway in Pennsylvania.
The Mauch Chunk Railroad was a 9 mile gravity railroad that went from Mauch Chunk, (now Jim Thorpe) and Summit Hill. It was originally a freight railroad bult by the Lehigh Coal and 69 Navigation Companys. Built in 1827, to move coal, it became a tourist attraction due to the scenic and exciting ride down the hill.
The Switchback Railway would have riders climb a tower to board a bench-like car, which was then pushed off to coast 600 feet down to a second tower at just over 6 mph. Once at the second tower, the car was moved to a return track, or "Switched back."
After a short time, the track was changed to an oval more akin to the modern roller coaster.
The site became the home of the Cyclone in 1927.