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These 40 Photos Give an Inside Look at Amusement Park Rides That Have Been Around Since the Early 1800s

Popular Mechanics Logo By Marisa LaScala of Popular Mechanics | Slide 1 of 41: The National Amusement Park Historical Association notes that"pleasure gardens"— places devoted to outdoor entertainment — have been offering thrills to summertime visitors since way back in the 1550s. While rides back then were more primitive, attractions that we'd know and recognize today, like carousels and roller coasters, started popping up by the early 1800s. And even starting way back then, the race was on, with amusement parks competing for faster, higher, and more pulse-pounding attractions. Some of these led to rides that are still around today, in some form or another, like looping coasters or extra-tall Ferris wheels. Others provided heart-racing experiences during the mid-century heyday of local funfairs, but were lost when smaller, local parks gave way to modern development in the '60s and '70s. And still others, well, they were a bad idea to begin with, and are probably best left to the annals of history. We took a look back at amusement parks through the years, and couldn't believe these rides were ever built, either because they're too pulse-pounding — like today's highest, fastest, and steepest roller coasters — or because they seem like they'd be too stomach-churning to ever ride, even for a wild summer break with friends.

The National Amusement Park Historical Association notes that"pleasure gardens"— places devoted to outdoor entertainment — have been offering thrills to summertime visitors since way back in the 1550s. While rides back then were more primitive, attractions that we'd know and recognize today, like carousels and roller coasters, started popping up by the early 1800s. And even starting way back then, the race was on, with amusement parks competing for faster, higher, and more pulse-pounding attractions. Some of these led to rides that are still around today, in some form or another, like looping coasters or extra-tall Ferris wheels. Others provided heart-racing experiences during the mid-century heyday of local funfairs, but were lost when smaller, local parks gave way to modern development in the '60s and '70s. And still others, well, they were a bad idea to begin with, and are probably best left to the annals of history. We took a look back at amusement parks through the years, and couldn't believe these rides were ever built, either because they're too pulse-pounding — like today's highest, fastest, and steepest roller coasters — or because they seem like they'd be too stomach-churning to ever ride, even for a wild summer break with friends.

© Bettmann - Getty Images

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