LaMarcus Adna Thompson
Who is LaMarcus Adna Thompson? Have you ever heard of this man? If you are a huge fan of all kind of roller coasters of all sort, you are in for a thrill. LaMarcus Adna Thompson was one of the best known American inventor for the earliest known roller coaster in America.
He built the first Switchback Railway in 1884 at Coney Island, the world’s most famous beach resort. According to Michael Simon of Entertainment Designer, he stated that “History has dubbed Thompson the “Father of Gravity,” as his coasters relied entirely upon gravity.” So how would the famous Switchback Railway work? Here Michael explained how it worked stating that:
“For the Coney Island attraction, ten people at a time climbed a flight of stairs to a tower where they boarded a train car. Riders then coasted down 600 feet at about 6 miles per hour, then climbed another flight of stairs to a second tower. The train car was “switched back” to a return track, and the riders coasted back to where they began. Thompson’s Switchback Railway was an instant success, earning him hundreds of dollars per day at a nickel per ride.”
A Brief History Of His Life
According to D. Potter of Theme Park Insider, “Lamarcus Adna Thompson was born in Jersey, Ohio on March 8th, 1848. The man who would later be known as the “father of gravity” started life first as a carpenter, then a successful business person.
By the age of 35 he had made a fortune after founding a company that manufactured women’s stockings. The hosiery business took a toll on Thompson’s health, and so he left the business. After a trip out west, he found himself in New York in the early 1880’s.”
As I was doing further research I came across this From Museum of the Open Road audio script, that Thompson was a devout Christian who was also a Sunday School teacher. ‘He was appalled at the leisure activities that drew young people in his day, and in particular saw amusement parks as places of sin and degradation. He sought to create a wholesome entertainment—one that would build character and not subject children to vice and depravity.‘
The Inspiration Of Switchback Railway
D. Potter stated ‘L.A. Thompson was inspired by a trip to the hills in eastern Pennsylvania, where a railroad line running through Carbon County converted from a coal transport into a tourist attraction.
The Mauch Chunk Switch Back Railway was an 18 mile, mostly downhill course that featured a 2300 ft long, 665 ft high drop at the end. The railway was a rousing success with tourists, who came by the thousands to ride every year. Thompson’s idea was to capture Mauch Chunk in a smaller package.’
He built Switchback Railway in 1884 at Coney Island with John Miller as his Chief Engineer who was a designing genius of his time. Miller went on to build his own company later and was successful in his endeavors.
I was able to dig up some interesting facts about the contradictions surrounding the patent issues as to who was truly the first inventor of the roller coaster in the West, if you like to read more about it.
The reason Thompson highlighted in our story this week, was to urge all of us not to take lightly whatever thought we have as we see what’s happening around us. Thompson sought to change what he saw. He did it through creating a more wholesome entertainment for the youths in his time. And he succeeded. Not only that, he became a Million Dollar Inventor in his time. God blessed his thought and invention.
You never know how far an idea or thought can lead you if you seek God for an open door to use it for His glory. Nothing is truly impossible if you leave it in His hands. Only in the end, I beseech you to give all glory and honor back to God. Be an inspiration to yours and future generation beginning as of today. Go, and run along with God.