Well Jimmy, sit down and let me tell you all about Catherine the Great. Yekaterina Alexeevna, also known as Catherine II or Catherine the Great was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia. Her rule, which is known as the Catherinian Era was also considered to be the Russian Empires Golden Age. During this time, a favourite winter past time of the Russian aristocracy were called “ice slides”. These slides consisted of two towers roughly 600ft (182.88m) apart, each with 70ft ladders which patrons would climb to reach the top. Once there, they would limb aboard sleds and be released to slide down long ramps at high speeds to the opposite tower and back.
Not content with waiting till winter despite how long it lasted in Russia, the Great lady had the sleds commissioned with wheels and the towers and slides with rails in 1784, allowing them to be use during the non-winter months at her palace, when snow and ice were; if you will pardon the pun… Thin on the ground.
Years later in 1817, Belleville Mountain in Paris became the first ones to lock the wheels to the track via the axils; similar to the current model used today. Following on that, the French also developed the first system to pull the riders back up the track for a restart as well as the first loop which was created in 1846.
So there you go Timmy. Now when you ride California Screamin or El Toro, you can thank Catherine the Great.
Thanks dad… Now about that horse legend?
That will have to wait till you are older Timmy.