Edwin Prescott: His Invention Made Our Lives Fun!

It’s National Roller Coaster Day! Freedom means more fun! Do you remember your first loop-the-loop?

On this day, August 16, 1898, the loop-the-loop was patented by Edwin Prescott. The patent reads:

“Be it known that I, EDWIN PRESCOTT, of Arlington, county of Middlesex, and State of Massachusetts, have invented an Improvement in Roller-Coasters…This invention has for its object the production of a novel roller-coaster or railway chiefly for purposes of pleasure…”

Prescott describes the laying of the tracks and the forming of the loop. He then explains the science, which makes it possible for a car to become inverted. “Due to centrifugal action, the contents of the car remains securely in place and the ear follows the track.”

That line about centrifugal action is why Prescott called it the “centrifugal railway.” The loop-the-loop first saw action in North America on Coney Island, New York, in 1901, where the first looping roller coaster was built.

Thank Edwin Prescott for making our summer amusement park outings so much fun!

My first loop-the-loop was “The Demon” at Great America, Gurnee, Illinois, in the summer of 1984. What was yours?

—-Patents and the Constitution 

Abraham Lincoln believed that the invention of the printing press, the discovery of America, and the American patent system brought about the most significant advances in human civilization.

The U.S. Constitution provides for patent laws in Article 1, Section 8, which reads,

“Congress shall have power to…promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries…”

Learn more about the Constitution by visiting our “Know the Constitution” category.