Mental Floss

The 12 Days of "In the Beginning"

Mangesh Hattikudur
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Roller Coasters

Every story's got its ups and downs. This one just has more than most.

You Must Be This Tall to Read

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Russian Ice Coasters

While we can certainly credit Josiah White with the American roller coaster phenomenon, the act had already been playing in Europe for several decades— all thanks to fun-loving Russians. In the 17th century, Russians began taking advantage of their long, cold winters by building five-story toboggan tracks out of wood, coating them with ice, and charging adventurous souls to ride down the track on a sled, also made of ice. At an angle of 50 degrees, one imagines that these rides were fairly dangerous. They were also immensely popular. Catherine the Great supposedly had private ice slides built near her palace and, in 1804, the concept (sans ice, plus wheels) was imported to France under the name The Russian Mountains.

In the Beginning goes on sale November 1st, and will be available at (respectable) bookstores everywhere!

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