Euclid Beach Park's First Merry-Go-Round Installed in 1896
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.
The park had two other carousels built for the smaller amusement park visitor and 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.
Euclid Beach Park's original kiddieland carousel (no photo available) was made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. It does not appear that the horses and other animals on this carousel were stationary, simply revolving with the platform. A puppet theater appears to have been in the center of the ride.
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. 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 the stepped on and stepped off the revolving platform.
Four years later, Euclid Beach Park approached PTC for a new, larger, grandeur carousel. The 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.. 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. (Note 2) 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.
Note 1: After leaving Euclid Beach Park PTC #9 went to Laurel Springs, Hartford, Connecticut. It returned to the PTC shops in 1925 to be refurbished and received number 74R. It then went to Kaufman's Park in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania. It was then relocated to Twin Grove Park in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania and in the early 80's the figures were sold off at auction. In 1998 the Pottstown Historical Society (Pennsylvania) purchased the mechanism and rounding boards. Fundraising efforts are continuing (2017) to have figures carved and place the carousel in operation.
Note 2: After Luna Park closed at the end of the 1928 season, PTC #35 was moved to Puritas Springs Park which was located on the west side of Cleveland till that park closed in at the end of its 1958 season. Then onto Shady Beach Park in Russells Point, Ohio until 1971. It now operates (2017) at Six Flags over St. Louis.
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.
Early Euclid Beach Park Postcard. Towers in the Background are on the Scenic Railway
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.
D. S. Humphrey II, having a successful popcorn stand on Cleveland's Public Square, obtained in 1895. In 1896 a popcorn stand was operated by the Humphrey' at Euclid Beach Park. However, after being unable to persuade park management to change the way the park was being operated, Humphrey pulled out of the park in 1899. In 1901 Euclid Beach Park was up for sale. D. S. Humphrey, while on a business trip in Chicago saw an article in Cleveland's Plain Dealer regarding the park's sale. He immediately returned home and called a family meeting. The outcome, the Humphrey's made a deal to take over management of the park. Now they had the chance to operate the park without the beer garden, gamblers, fakers, and questionable side shows. The things the family tried to persuade the old management to eliminate from the park.
Note: The Kiddie Carousel also received an "Art Deco" makeover, take note in the photograph above taken when it was at Shady Lake Park.
Kiddie Carousel Photographed When at Shady Lake Photo Courtesy of Richard Wickens
The horses and chariots moved to Cleveland for the auction were placed in storage and arrangements were made to retrieve the balance of PTC#19. Two truckloads of carousel parts made their way to Ohio from two storage units in Maine. Sometime after, it was learned there was a third storage unit the new owners were unaware of. The owner of the storage unit, not knowing who now owned the items in his unit and thus not able to contact anyone after the rental period elapsed, discarded the items. What may have been in that storage unit? Rumor had it that, in rushing to disassemble PTC#19, shortcuts were taken. It was said at some time while at Palace Playland, plywood was nailed to the carousel’s platform. This made it difficult for a quick and easy disassembly so a chainsaw was used to remove the platform and also on the drop rods. A lift truck was used to remove the main gear and was not of sufficient capacity for the weight of the gear, so as the gear was being removed it fell to the ground and cracked.
Note: Founded in 1989 as the Euclid Beach Park Nuts. Getting involved with the carousel the organization filed for 501(c)3 non-profit status and changed its name to Euclid Beach Park Now.
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 was sold to Palace Playland, a small amusement park in the resort community of Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
In November of 1996 a group of about 20 individuals in Old Orchard Beach formed “Save Our Carousel in Old Orchard Beach” to try and save the carousel and keep it in the town. They made a proposal to the charitable organization but had yet to raise any funds. The article continued that the gentleman involved with the charity was hopeful he could find a buyer that would insure the carousel would remain in town. The article further stated Palace Playland had been for sale several years before with no one coming forward to purchase the ocean front park.
On the day of the auction a TPL vice-president and attorney were in Cleveland from TPL’s San Francisco headquarters with funds made available from the Ford Foundation. Fifty four horses, 2 chariots, and the frame were offered. The total bids for the individual horses and chariots were totaled to arrive at a starting bid for the entire carousel, $505,000. TPL had made available enough funds; however as the bidding started the unknown was whether someone or some other entity was present and interested in the entire machine. When the opening bid was called the VP from TPL held up her bid card. A glad stirring was felt in the auction tent. The next bid needed to be at a certain amount higher as set by the auctioneer. The bid was called and a gentleman in the crowd held up his bid card. Again the crowd stirred. Next bid, again had to be at a higher percentage and when asked for the TPL VP raised her bid card. Another bid was asked for, none was made and the gentleman making the second bid was now heading for the exit.
Rumor had it that, in rushing to disassemble PTC#19, shortcuts were taken. It was said at some time while at Palace Playland, plywood was nailed to the carousel’s platform. This made it difficult for a quick and easy disassembly so a chainsaw was used to remove the platform and also on the drop rods. A lift truck was used to remove the main gear and was not of sufficient capacity for the weight of the gear, so as the gear was being removed it fell to the ground and cracked.
When the announcement came from the auctioneer “SOLD” a great cheer rose in the tent. With a “Buyers Premium” added to the final amount bid, the cost of the carousel was $715,000. The TRP VP announced to those assembled in the auction tent they were there to bid on the complete carousel on behalf of a civic organization and local preservationist who hoped to see #19 operate again in Cleveland. This message brought a great cheer from those in the tent and soon spread to the large crowd who collected outside the tent, kept at a distance from those who paid a fee to be inside.
Right: Old Cleveland Railway Street Car at Trolleyville, U.S.A. (Trolleyville Closed in 2005)
Around the 1930's Euclid Beach Park made alterations to the facades of the three main roller coasters 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 and the postcard image on the right. 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."
PTC #9 Yesterday as today, there was competition in the amusement park industry. Other parks and resorts were already operating in and around Cleveland. In 1905, Luna Park opened on Cleveland's east side. One of its first rides was a carousel, a menagerie machine, mixture of horses and other animals. This carousel was made by the T. M. Harton Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A coincidence or to be competitive, in 1906 Euclid Beach Park obtained obtained a new carousel, also a menagerie machine. Three rows of stationary figures or standers, no jumping figures. This was the ninth carousel manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Note 1) No photos of this carousel when operating at the park seem to exist. PTC was the only carousel manufacturer to consecutively number their carousels by carving the number into the center pole.
Old Orchard Beach is a summer resort town located on the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 16 miles south of Portland, Maine. The main street of the resort, Old Orchard Street, ends at the beach. Directly at the end of the street and extending into the Atlantic Ocean is Old Orchard Pier. The Atlantic has claimed part of the structure at least three times since it was built in 1898. In the early summer of 1969 two small amusement parks operated in Old Orchard Beach; Pier Amusements north of the pier and Palace Playland, south of the pier. Pier Amusements had a carousel, Palace Playland did not. A fire broke out at Pier Amusements on July 19, 1969 destroying its old carousel and much of the amusement park. PTC #19 arrived at Palace Playland in the early 70's. A local newspaper article In a 1987 reported on a commercial artist who was repainting the carousel. The article mentioned that this same artist "restored the ride" in 1971. The horses were no longer painted white with just the saddles and trappings getting colors, but repainted in a variety of colors and hues. The carousel's frame also saw changes when in Maine. The curved, vaulted ceilings and the inner scenery panels, which hid the center pole and its supports were removed. The postcard photo of the carousel shown here, displays the "art deco" rounding boards that were on PTC #19 but in later years they were altered getting painted all white.
Right: Cover from a Palace Playland
promotional brochure, circa 1979.
Since hearing PTC#19 could be sold and maybe split up, EBPN began a letter-writing campaign aimed at government, business, and civic leaders to generate help. In the early spring of 1997 when the auction was announced, a weekly local newspaper ran a story in some of its Cleveland suburban and neighborhood editions. The local representative for the Trust for Public Land (TPL) read about the auction and campaign and contacted the president of EBPN with possible sites for the carousel and ways to get financial assistance. The part-time TPL representative was also a community development consultant and from contacts learned a Cleveland civic organization was interested in having the carousel return. The funds needed by the organization could not be attainable within the time constraints, so the TPL representative approached TPL to ask if they could be of assistance. Around the end of June 1997 TPL approved financial assistance in making the initial purchase of the carousel on behalf of the civic organization.
auction under Norton of Michigan in February of 1997. Many EBPN members and Clevelanders made the drive to the auction to bid on and take home some Euclid Beach Park memorabilia, noted by Norton of Michigan. In the early spring of 1997 a call from Norton of Michigan was made to the then President of EBPN asking if he knew of a venue where the auction for #19 could be held. Coincidently, EBPN had planned for a memorabilia show on the west side of Cleveland at Trolleyville, U.S.A. on July 19, 1997. Trolleyville was an operating trolley museum with about 35 trolleys in its collection including one that once carried park-goers to Euclid Beach Park. The memorabilia show was billed as “Ride a Trolley to Euclid Beach.” The trolley museum has since closed.
A February 1997 newspaper article reported Palace Playland was sold two months prior, to two gentleman who lived in Florida and owned eight of the park’s rides. The article continued the two new owners were working to keep the carousel in town as was the foundation that owned the carousel. We know those efforts failed. Later in 1997 Norton of Michigan was contracted to hold the auction for PTC#19. It was rumored individuals suggested to Norton of Michigan to hold the auction in the Cleveland area, because of the nostalgia and attachment Clevelanders have with Euclid Beach Park higher prices could be obtained. The auctioneer knew of the Euclid Beach Park Nuts. In 1982 Shady Lake Park closed, the Humphrey Family deciding to devote more time to its popcorn, popcorn ball, and candy kiss business. Most of the items from their Shady Lake Park were sold and found their way to Old Indiana Fun Park located in Thornton, Indiana. That park closed with all assets going up for
Euclid Beach Park Now
Euclid Beach Park Now (EBPN) honors and preserves the memories of arguably Cleveland, Ohio's most
beloved amusement park EUCLID BEACH PARK which operated from 1895 through 1969
On September 21, 1996, an article in the Portland Press Herald had the headline “Old Orchard Beach May Lose Its Historic Carousel.” The commentary stated: “A bit of the town's history is up for sale.” The owner of the Palace Playland said the carousel was owned by a charitable organization run by his uncle and aunt. His uncle owned the park in the 1970s when the carousel was purchased. The article did not report why the carousel was for sale. It did mention a Cleveland organization, Euclid Beach Park Nuts (EBPN), who would possibly work to raise the funds to see the carousel returned to its hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. EBPN was and is a fan/booster club for old Euclid Beach Park made up of former park employees and others with memories of the park.
Left: Center graphic from a Palace Playland
promotional brochure, circa 1979.
Note: 1906 date incorrect
The following is from an article that appeared in the January/February 2016, Volume 32, No. 1 Issue of
Carousel & Automatic Music News, Euclid Beach Park PTC#19-Home Again in Cleveland, Ohio,
by Rich Wickens, Used With Permission