For all that America has done to make roller coasters our own, we actually owe the invention to adventure-seeking Russians. The original coaster is thought to be a 16th-century St. Petersburg ice slide that took riders on a high-speed journey through a series of colorful lanterns. Over the years, as the tech advanced ever so slightly, coasters were used as mine shaft transportation, elevated railways, and, towards the end of the 19th century, actual amusement rides. Today the great coaster evolution has led us to wait in line for three hours to have our stomachs yanked into our throats for 87 seconds.
Even if we didn't invent roller coasters, Americans are hard at work perfecting 'em. Throughout the country we have some spectacular specimens of the form, be they jittery wooden reminders of yestercentury or masochistic steel monsters with 300ft drops. Some are fast, some are scary, but all are rides that give us three or four minutes worth the trip. Here are the 15 most iconic coasters in the country.