Before the Cyclone, Coney Island was home to the Switchback Railway, which opened on June 16th, 1884. It was not only Coney's first roller coaster, but America's first roller coaster! The ol' gal would be 131 today if she weren't unceremoniously demolished (presumably).

According to the History Channel, the 600-foot-long coaster was the brainchild of LaMarcus Thompson, and it traveled approximately 6 MPH at just 50-feet above the ground. Today the tallest in North America is 456-feet, and The Cyclone—which arrived at Coney Island in 1927—is 85-feet tall. Thompson was reportedly inspired by the Mauch Chuk Switchback Railway in Pennsylvania, which was a mine train that became a tourist attraction.

The Coney Island History Project notes that the Switchback (which stood where the Cyclone is today), "was not a round-trip ride. The passengers left the car, which was then turned around and sent back to the start." You can get an idea of what it was like in this video:

The ride cost a nickel, and it's believed Thompson—who is known as the Father of Gravity—grossed an average of $600/day before competition started rolling in. He went on to form the L. A. Thompson Scenic Railway Company, which he ran out of 220 West 42nd Street—through that he developed more rides for Coney Island, including a scenic railway that was partially destroyed during the 1944 fire.