Sledding down huge ice-coated wooden slides was popular in Russia in the late 1700s.

So popular, in fact, that ruler Catherine the Great was enamored with the sport. When summer came and the ice melted, Catherine ordered wheels added to the sleds so thrill seekers could enjoy the slides during the summer months - and the roller coaster was born.By 1816, the "Russian Mountains" were popular in France, Paul Ruben, editor of Roller Coaster! magazine told a recent conference at the University of Rochester.