The History of Ziplining

Posted by: Forever Florida on 11 Mar, 2019

A zipline is a pulley suspended on a cable. It is typically made of stainless steel and attached to some kind of slope. It allows cargo or people to be moved from place to place using only gravity. Usually, ziplines are used to move things from the top of the slope to the bottom. While they are a popular form of recreation now, the history of ziplining had a more practical use.


Early On

Evidence of ziplines being used to move objects goes back more than 2,000 years in China, India, and Japan. Some rural areas of China still primarily used ziplines to move objects up and down slopes until the early 21st century, when bridges were finally installed in those regions.


Recreational Beginnings

However, humans are an adventurous sort, and a zipline looks like fun. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to use it as a ride, for recreational purposes. The first recorded use of a zipline for recreation was in 1739 when a man named Robert Cadman attempted to use a rope structured zipline to descend from the top of St. Mary’s Church in Shrewsbury, England. Ziplining for fun may well have been done before this, considering human nature, but this is the first recorded instance of it.

A recreational zipline appears in the 1987 H.G. Wells novel, The Invisible Man, when one was used at a Whit Monday fair.


Modern Age

Today, ziplines are a popular form of recreation. They are not just for adults, either. Simple and safe zipline adventures exist on children’s adventure playgrounds. The ones made for children have light inclines and slower speeds than the ones used for adults, which means they don’t need a means of stopping. The slight incline and slow speed means the zipline will stop itself when it reaches the bottom of the incline.

Grown-ups tend to favor longer and higher rides on ziplines. They ride them at adventure parks, on obstacle courses, and to access remote areas of nature unavailable by most other means, such as the canopy of the rainforest in Central and South America. In fact, ziplines have been used to access the rainforest canopy since the 1970’s, when wildlife researchers set them up in the jungle as a way to explore the dense rainforest in Costa Rica without disturbing the eco-structure there. It was these early research-based ziplines that gave rise to the idea of using them for adventures. The first type of commercial recreational ziplines was for rainforest canopy tours.

The idea was to use the zipline canopy tours as a means to help raise awareness of the rainforest, the need for reforestation, and promote education about the socio-economic scenes in the nearby communities. A patent was issued in 1998 by the Costa Rican Patent Office for an Elevated Forest Transport System Propelled by Gravity, Using Harness and Pulley Through a Simple Horizontal Line. The patent was granted to Canadian Darren Hreniuk, who first had the idea for canopy tours via ziplines.

The patent was later rescinded for unknown reasons, and the Costa Rican zipline business’s future was in question as a result. However, the patent was reinstated twenty years later, solidifying zipline canopy tours as a strong business in Costa Rica.

Today, canopy tours are given all over the world, and zipline tours are also available in a variety of adventure parks. This means you can enjoy ziplining in a wild environment, or a controlled one that is still just as fun, but safer than the wilderness ones. You can zipline through wooded or mountainous areas, and even do ziplining courses with bridges in between different sets of ziplines that get you from place to place on the course. Heights can range from close to the ground to right up in the treetops. This kind of variety allows you to choose the zipline experience that is best for you.


Book Your Adventure Pack Today

Whether you are on an eco-tour, an outdoor adventure camp, or an upscale resort, you will find ziplining experiences and tours available. They are a popular vacation activity these days. If you are excited about exploring Florida, Forever Florida is an outdoor adventure park that offers a ziplining experience that just about anyone can enjoy. Book your memorable trip today, and see Central Florida at its wildest.