I am constantly
reminded why I love making my little excursions in pursuit of
carousels. This particular trip was no exception. It was a
gorgeous fall day, as I headed down the highway from Denver to
Burlington, Colorado. And no, this is not another story about
that magnificent carousel. I just mention it because you have to
know there are more worthwhile stops than just the few I noted
above. In fact I did stop, and ended up falling in love with
good old PTC #6 all over again. Besides, it was on the way to my
first resting spot in Holdrege, Nebraska (no carousel – but my room was
free and my sister-in-law always feeds me well).
The next day I was off again and super eager to see the Union Park
carousel in Des Moines. It was closed the last time I came
town. What a great machine. Carousel Works did an awesome
job on this gem.
After riding my favorite cat at least twice, I was on the road and
headed toward the Mt. Pleasant Old Threshers Reunion.
I have to say, even
though I had a great time exploring the many fascinating exhibits and
educational demonstrations at the reunion, the highlight was seeing
their beautifully restored 1894 Norman & Evans carousel.
Exquisite in every way, this two row portable track machine, has 24
jumpers, a Wurlitzer 125 Military Band Organ, and is powered by a
Herschell- Spillman steam engine that dates back over a century.
The Mt Pleasant carousel was first operated at Old Threshers Reunion
during the 60s and 70s, after which it was sold to J. Ottaway, who
restored the machine and operated it in Kansas. It was part of
Cowtown Park in Wichita from 1989 to 1994. It then made its way
back home to Mt. Pleasant where it has been ever since. For more
information on this carousel and the Old Threshers Reunion 2005
Next, I headed back through Des Moines and up to Story City.
There, in North Park, lies a very fine example of a Herschell-Spillman
menagerie merry-go-round. It has twenty jumpers, two dogs, two
pigs, two roosters, two chariots, a lovers tub, and a Wurlitzer Band
The Rollag carousel is a c. 1920 C.W.
Parker, two row portable, with twenty-two jumpers, three chariots, and
a Johnson Model 125SP band organ. It’s also set up to run with an
electric motor. The center pole is trailer mounted, but was
probably not configured this way originally. This particular Parker
began its life traveling in a Minnesota carnival from the 1920s to the
1960s. After which, Ruben Klein of Pelican Rapids, MN owned
it. Then, in 1982 it was passed on to the WMSTR.
Two of the Rollag horses where carved by local carvers who are also
working on carving new center panels. In fact, a special carving
building was established by WMSTR in 1992. It serves as a
workshop and added attraction for riders as they wait for their
turn. For more information on this carousel, and the
WMSTR see: www.rollag.com
After leaving the reunion I also had time to catch the carousels of
Red River Zoo in Fargo, and Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, ND. I
would highly recommend stopping at both (see photos below). There
nothing like heading out to see two hard to catch merry-go-rounds and
ending up with bonus visits to four or five others.
So, when making next year’s Labor Day
plans, you might want to think about catching your own ride on the Mt.
Pleasant and Rollag carousels. And of course, don't forget about
all the other great stops in
Dennis D. Towndrow