On Saturday, June 22, 1895 a new summer resort opened eight miles east of Cleveland's Public Square. Greeting patrons: Pier, German Village, Theater, Dance Pavilion, and Bath House. The name of this new summer resort Euclid Beach Park. The parks second season, 1895, saw the addition of amusement rides; Ferris Wheel, Swings, Switchback Railway and a Merry-Go-Round. This first carousel was a "track" machine, movement of the figures was generated from underneath the platform. This carousel was built by the Armitage Herschell Company of North Tonawanda, New York, approximately 15 miles north of Buffalo.
Note: Armitage Herschell Company invested much of it money in real estate. The land boom bubble burst in 1899, forcing the company into receivership. Allen Herschell with his brother-in-law, Edward Spillman, formed a new company, the Herschell-Spillman Company.
In 1903, another carousel was erected at Euclid Beach Park. This one was manufactured by the Herschell Spillman Company and was called the Flying Ponies, the figures being suspended from above, thus allowing them to swing out as the carousel turned. A unique feature of this particular carousel was that the entire machine was installed at a 10 degree angle, making the ride a bit more exciting as it revolved. This unique carousel operated at Euclid Beach Park until 1949.
Picture is from an early Euclid Beach Park postcard. The towers on left are on the structure housing the loading platform for the SCENIC RAILWAY
The horse pictured here is from the Flying Ponies. In the memorabilia collection of Euclid Beach Park Now.
The years 1870-1930 has been called the "Golden Age" of carousels and just about parallels the prosperous and flourishing era of America's amusement parks. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) had a late start in the business being founded in 1904 in Philadelphia, PA. There were other already established carousel companies carving and selling merry-go-rounds: the firm of G. A. Dentzel founded in 1867, Charles I.D. Looff in 1867, Armitage Herschell in 1882, and C. W. Parker in 1893 to name a few and the better known. Three carousel companies all directly connected through the same management produced carousels in Cincinnati, OH between 1903-1909. PTC was founded with the objective to "build finer and better carousels and coasters." The carousels Euclid Beach Park purchased from PTC will be presented below. The park also had Philadelphia Toboggan Company built roller coasters: The Figure Eight erected in 1904, razed in 1908 and the Thriller which opened in 1924 and was still in operation the last day the park was open in 1969. PTC also built The Mill Chute in 1921, re-imagined and altered by Euclid Beach Park in 1937 and renamed Over The Falls. PTC also produced a kiddie carousel and one of theirs was in kiddieland replaced by a Wm. F. Mangels kiddie carousel.
For most who remember the old park when Euclid Beach Park is mentioned the image of the Arch entrance pops in the mind. The other image is of a somewhat plump woman who's head, arms, and waist gyrations were produced by cogs and gears. Her contagious laugh was on a photograph record. Her post was an enclosure in the Surprise House, the parks walk thru fun house. She was purchased via PTC who subcontracted the Old King Cole Papier Mache Company of Canton, Ohio for fabrication.
Each carousel produced by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company was consecutively numbered, engraved in the machine's center pole. If one of their carousels came back for a make over the next sequential number was given the machine with an "R". PTC had four unique carving periods. The early or first style began when the company was founded in 1904, three-row menagerie period which was followed by the large and massive horse period. Leo Zoller headed the carving department during this period. PTC#19 would be included in this period.
Other Cleveland area amusement parks had Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousels.
Postcard of PTC#35 at Cleveland, Ohio's Luna Park. The sign mounted to the pavilion says: RIDE THE HORSES, CARROUSEL.
Postcard from the collection of Fred Fried
Note: Other American carousel manufacturers contributing to the 3,000 carousels made.
The PTC#35 from inside the pavilion.
Photo from the collection of Fred Fried
At the beginning of this section the "Golden Age" of carousels is mentioned. Doing the math, between 1905 (PTC#9) & 1910 (PTC#19), 5 years, the Philadelphia Toboggan Company produced 10 carousels. Between 1910 (PTC#19) and 1915 (PTC#35), also 5 years, the company produced 25 carousels.
The purpose of the NCA shall be to promote conservation, appreciation, knowledge, and enjoyment of the art of the classic wooden carousel and especially the preservation of complete wooden carousels.
Yesterday as today, there was competition in the amusement park industry. Other parks were operating in an around Cleveland. Puritas Springs Park opened in 1898, Luna Park and White City opened in 1905, Lincoln Park opened in 1906, and Willoughbeach park in 1907. One of Luna Park’s first rides was a carousel, a menagerie machine, mixture of horses and other animals. This carousel made by the T. M. Harton Company of Pittsburgh, PA. A coincidence or to be competitive, in 1906 Euclid Beach Park obtained a new carousel, also a menagerie machine. Three rows of stationary figures or standers, no jumping figures, the ninth carousel manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) of Philadelphia, PA.
In 1907 White City installed a new carousel PTC#16, three rows of horses, 24 jumpers and an outside row of 14 standers with four chariots. In 1910 Euclid Beach Park installed PTC#19 replacing PTC#9. That was not the end of #9. It went to and operated at Laurel Springs in Hartford, CT until that park closed in 1923. In 1925 the carousel returned to PTC to be refurbished, PTC#74R. Records from PTC has the carousel then going to Mount Gretna, PA in 1926. PTC records do not state the name of the park, however there was a Kauffman Park that is listed in the website www.defunctparks.com. In 1929 #9 went back to PTC to again be refurbished and became PTC#86R going to Joyland Park in Lexington, KY. At some point it got to Twin Grove Park in Pine Grove, PA this either in 1935 or 1964.
In the fall of 1980 the carousel went up for auction. All the figures and chariots were sold off. The remaining parts, frame and mechanism went into storage in either Pottstown or Dallastown, PA. In 2001 a project was started to return the carousel to operation with new carved figures. The carousel is now operating in Pottstown, PA opening the spring of 2016.
Four years after purchasing PTC#9, Euclid Beach Park approached the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for a new, larger, grandeur carousel. This carousel was installed in 1910, had a 50 foot platform with 4 rows of horses, 3 inside rows of 44 jumping horses and an outside row of 14 nearly life size stationary horses and 2 chariots. Into its center pole was carved "No 19". Euclid Beach park advertised the new ride as, The Finest Carousal ever made, Euclid Beach, Cleveland, Ohio as seen in the early postcard to the left.
PTC #19 had an initial purchase price of $7,734.04. A new 90 foot diameter building was erected to house the carousel with an initial cost of $9,713.94. PTC #19 was larger than PTC #9 plus it had 3 rows of jumping figures. All the figures on PTC #9 were stationary as were the figures on Luna Park's carousel at that time. In 1915 Luna Park installed a new PTC carousel #35. This one also had 4 rows of horses, 3 rows of 58 jumpers, 1 row of 10 standers and 2 chariots. PTC#19 was the last large park carousel purchased by Euclid Beach Park. It would remain the centerpiece of the park until Euclid Beach Park closed on September 28, 1969.
In 1921, Euclid Beach purchased and had installed a racing derby manufactured by the firm of Prior and Church. It was installed next to PTC #19 and given the name The Great American Racing Derby. The ride featured rows of four horses that not only moved up and down but forward and backward. The platform would begin to revolve and pick up speed, at a certain rpm a large bell would sound signally the start of the race for each row of four horses. As the platform revolved one could hear a deep rumble.
Image to the left is of The Great American Racing Derby from a Euclid Beach Park postcard
At a given point the horses would stop moving forward and backward and the ride would slow down to a stop, Many seasons saw a ride attendant place a small American flag in a hole behind the ear of the row's winning horse, awarding the winning rider with a free ride. Besides watching the park whiz by riders also watched the ride attendants as they stepped on and stepped off the revolving platform. A short lived idea had bicycles replace a row of horses.
Image to the right is the Great American Racing Derby building.
Reprint of an article from The Arch, Euclid Beach Park Now's quarterly newsletter. Volume 25, Issue 3, Summer 2014 by Jim Wise, Former Euclid Beach Park Employee and Euclid Beach Park Now Member
The Great American Racing Derby was a horse racing ride that sat almost in the center of ride attractions found at Euclid Beach Park. This large horse racing ride was located just to the east of the "Carrousel". The building in which the ride was located, was 114 feet in diameter and had a dome shaped roof that was open to sky in the very center. This let in plenty of daylight and allowed grass to grow in the very center of this "racetrack" and created a very open and spacious setting.
Unlike a carrousel, the 64 horses on this ride were not suspended from above by any type of overhead mechanical equipment. The horses, paired in sets of four, were each attached to a post that appeared to simply come up out of the floor. Yet the horses were not fixed in place. As the ride was in operation, the horses moved up and down as well as forward and back within each set of four.
The floor of this ride was a large moving platform. This platform or "table" (as I believe it was called) was right at ground level. (No steps or ramps were needed to step onto the ride.) This meant that the machinery needed to make this ride function was located in a basement/crawl space beneath the platform or "table". (To my knowledge, the Racing Derby was the only ride in Euclid Beach Park to have a basement.)
I was in this concrete crawlspace once and was surprised to discover six tracks (much like roller coaster tracks) down there. These tracks were made up of six or eight layers of wood, laminated on top of each other and topped with a strip of steel. The outer and innermost of the six tracks were flat. These were the two tracks on which the moving table, with its steel wheels, rolled. The middle four tracks were the tracks on which the horses rode. These tracks were laminated in such a way as to create small hills and valleys. This caused the horses to go up and down as the followed the contour of the track below.
(Click on the Action Button below to see photos of the motors, cables, pulleys, wheels and tracks in the crawl space.)
I regret that, on my tour of the Racing Derby's basement, I did not look at the mechanics that made the horses move back and forth. The ride operator controlled the forward and back movement of the horses and rumor has it that pretty, young ladies were often fortunate to have the winning horses.
The ride was cable driven. A cable was stretched around the outside perimeter of the table eventually reaching an electric motor then back to the table. The cable was then spliced together to form a continuous loop. This cable needed to be replaced every few years. The park maintenance staff would install the new cable and then a professional cable splicer would be brought in to make the final splice to form the continuous loop.
I was told that there were well over one hundred grease fittings underneath the ride that required regular, ongoing attention. Walter Williams, a member of the maintenance staff, over saw the maintenance of the Racing Derby from its arrival at Euclid Beach Park in 1921 until it was dismantled and moved to Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio) in the fall of 1966.
The park had two other carousels built for the smaller amusement park visitor and were located in the Colonnade where the kiddie rides operated. Shown in these photos is the kiddie carousel manufactured by the Wm. F. Mangels Company Carousal Works of Brooklyn, New York.
The photo above courtesy of Jim Wise, taken at Euclid Beach Park
Euclid Beach Park's original kiddieland carousel (no photo available) was made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. It appears that the horses and other animals on this carousel were stationary, simply revolving with the platform. A puppet theater seams to have been in the center of the ride.
The photo above courtesy of Richard Wickens, taken when the small carousel was at Shady Lake Park
Around the 1930's Euclid Beach Park made alterations to the facades of the three main roller coasters, Racing Coaster, Thriller, Flying Turns, and to the band stand in the dance pavilion, incorporating an "Art Deco" design style. The carousel was also altered to reflect this style that flourished in the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's. Refer to the image of the colorized carousel postcard above, with the "Art Deco" style and the postcard image on the right at installation in 1910. Most of the original Baroque details were removed or altered. Each rounding board section had two cherubs holding a swag between them with a row of beveled mirrors below.
It appears they were removed and replaced. New shields, between the rounding board sections were made. The interior upper surrounds were replaced or altered with most of the intricate decorative carvings in between removed. There may also have been alterations made to the lower scenery panels. The 58 horses received a makeover. All of the horses were painted white with just the trappings and saddles receiving color. It was also at this time that the park no longer called it the "CAROUSSAL" but "CARROUSEL."
Note: No photos of the individual figures showing original factory paint have ever surfaced. The following were photographed by Harry Christiansen in 1969. Used with permission from D&D Productions.
The mid 60's to early 70's saw many of America's traditional amusement parks close. Euclid Beach Park came to its end at the close of the 1969 operating season. Some of the rides from kiddieland and larger rides that could be easily dismantled and moved were placed in storage, to once again operate at a future date in Humphrey's Shady Lake Park which opened in 1978 in Streetsboro, Ohio. Larger rides like the roller coasters, saw cables tied to bulldozers, changing them from their towering vertical landmark features to horizontal rubble. PTC #19 stayed intact eventually getting sold to a small amusement park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Palace Playland.