No amusement park would be complete without a carousel. Colorful horses prance behind whimsical animals of every type. Ostriches, zebras and delightful bears gallop to the sounds of calliopes while children laugh and giggle at the wonderful adorned creatures. Early carousel animals were carved from wood and very ornate. Considered a form of folk art very few original pieces are left today. However if you are in the Buffalo area make plans to visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in nearby North Tonawanda, New York.
The Herschell Carrousel Factory opened it’s doors at 180 Thompson Street in North Tonawanda in 1915. Considered a major employer in the area at the time, talented wood carvers created the magnificent ponies and menagerie animals for carousel’s that were sold all over the world. Graceful manes and detailed ornamentation survives on in the Herschell Carrousel Company, offering a glimpse into a craft that is almost gone. To the Herschell Carrousel Company’s credit, it is one of only two remaining nineteenth century companies of its type. The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum proudly carries the distinction of being the only “building and 1916 carousel listed on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic places, it is the only museum in the world housed in an authentic, original carousel factory building.”
Trained guides will give a very in-depth discussion on the history of Allan Herschell and the various incarnations of the Herschell Carrousel Factory from 1915 till present. No visit would be complete without mentioning the haunting music that was a major component of the carousel experience. You will enjoy the exhibit from the Wurlitzer Company that was also once in operation in North Tonawanda. Actual machinery is on display that shows how early rolled music was made. Volunteers will demonstrate how the music rolls were made and used. Rolled music was frequently used to produce the sounds of the carousel on small steam driven carousel organs.
Take a tour into a bygone era and see how not only carousels were built, but also glimpse into the construction and planning of other amusement rides. Enjoy the exhibits of original drawing and paintings by the artists that created the wonderful creatures that danced in children’s dreams . You will have the chance to view an actual 20 piece collection of hand crafted carousel animals that represent four main eras in the evolution of the depiction of carousel themes including the changes in artistic depiction of different kinds of animals through the years. The Lockman collection is one of a kind, it includes many rare and antique carousel pieces, that can never be found any place else.
You will get to ride a genuine 1916 carousel that was one first original carrousel’s shipped from the Herschell Carrousel Company. Even little children can enjoy the experience, there is also an aluminum carousel from the 1940’s just for them. Designed by the Herschell Carrousel Factory, the aluminum carousel is a representation of later amusement rides that were developed in the factory called “kiddie rides”. The idea was a to develop slower moving rides that very young children could enjoy safely without their parents help. The Herschell Factory also developed adult rides like the double Ferris Wheel and other thrill rides including the Twister. Plan a family day out that will be educational and fun, your kids will have a new appreciation for the history and understand how amusement rides of yesterday helped develop the rides of today.
Herschell Carrousel Museum History of Herschell Carrousel Factory carrouselmuseum.org