National Museum of Roller Skating


From 1819, when the first patent for roller skates was issued, until 1863, almost all roller skates consisted of a single line of rollers or wheels attached to some sort of sole or shoe. In 1863, Joseph Plimpton, a Massachusetts businessman, received a patent for a revolutionary design using two parallel sets of wheels attached to rubber springs. His "rocker skate" achieved what the in-line skate could not: It allowed the skater to steer by leaning to the left or right. Plimpton's invention is just one of the many engineering and manufacturing innovations of the past 200 years that are featured in this museum's unique collection.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Other
Topic(s):Sports/ Games
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:Joseph Merlin, a Belgian mechanic and maker of musical instruments, is said to have invented roller skates in 1760. He wore them to a costume party, where he skated around playing a violin. Sad to say, he lost control of his speed and direction and skated into a costly mirror, smashing it to bits, ruining his violin, and cutting himself badly.