Glen Echo in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Roller Coasters of Glen Echo Amusement Park
The first primitive version of a roller coaster called the “Flying Mountain” emerged in Russia in the 1400’s. Americans encountered their first taste of a roller coaster-like thrill ride in 1827 when Josiah White constructed the Mauch Chunk Railway, better known as the Gravity Road. The Gravity Road came to be a thrill ride by accident since its original purpose was to transport coal 9 miles downhill to the town of Mauch Chunk in Pennsylvania. Soon the run became a public attraction with crowds paying 50 cents for a ride (the coaster still delivered coal in the morning). The first modern roller coasters were developed at Coney Island in 1884 by Le Marcus Thompson, who had drawn inspiration from a ride on the Mauch Chunk railway. The coaster was called a switch back and provided more of a scenic tour than a thrilling ride, going only 6 mph. Thompson's $1,600 coaster, however, paid for itself in only 3 weeks! Within months, Thompson had many competitors in the coaster business. Amusement parks and roller coasters flourished throughout the beginning of the 20th century but the Depression caused a rapid decline in the number of parks and coasters. Coaster interest was revitalized thanks to the imaginative mind of Walt Disney. In 1955 Disney commissioned Arrow Development Center to create the
The Coasters of Glen Echo.
Beginning in the late 19th century trolley companies began constructing trolley parks at the end of lines to attract evening and weekend travelers. Glen Echo opened as an amusement park in 1898 and closed in 1968. During that 70 year period the park was home to 7 different coasters: the Scenic Railway, the Hydraulic Dive, the Dip, the Gravity Railway, the Derby Racer, Coaster Dips and the Comet Jr. Undoubtedly the best known and most frequently remembered ride is Coaster Dips. The ride opened in May of 1921 and was designed by Frank Moore. In an article from the January, 1981 issue of Coaster World the ride is described enticingly, “As the daytime passengers ascend the 72 feet, they were afforded a beautiful view of the Potomac River and its Virginia shore while evening riders were treated to a sight nearly impossible to describe: the mists rising from the river and mingling with the Sycamore trees on the shore.”
Erected by Alexa Shimizu, Volunteer, National Park Service.
Location. 38° 57.981′ N, 77° 8.35′ W. Marker is in Glen Echo, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Macarthur Boulevard ¼ mile from Goldsboro Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Glen Echo MD 20812, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 12 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1921 (here, next to this marker); The Changing Face of Glen Echo (a few steps from this marker); Glen Echo Park’s Crystal Pool (a few steps from this marker); Glen Echo From Past to Present (within shouting distance of this marker); The Glen Echo Park Yurts (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named 1921 (within shouting distance of this marker); Glen Echo Civil Rights Protest (within shouting distance c. 1931 (within shouting distance of this marker); c. 1926 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Glen Echo’s Art Deco Arcade (about 300 feet away); A Trolley Returns to Glen Echo (about 300 feet away but has been reported missing); Trolley Parks In America (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Glen Echo.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Categories. • 20th Century •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 30, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 5,355 times since then and 43 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on October 30, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. 2, 3, 4. submitted on February 21, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.