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A Love Affair With Carousel Horses

Updated on December 21, 2014
this was the carousel I rode as a child.
this was the carousel I rode as a child.

My love affair with carousel horses started when I was very young. The moment I laid eyes on those wonderful hand carved beauties, their brilliantly painted and adorned bodies frozen in all poses I was smitten. They captured my heart, my imagination and I have never been able to get enough of them since. They come from a bygone age of meticulous handcarvers who's work took months of commitment to create just one of these fabulous equines in all their splendor. But it doesn't stop with just the horses, although hands down they are my favorite. There is a whole Noah's ark of animals that can be found under the roof and canapes.

Add to that the original calliope or organ music, the murals and the brass rings to catch and it was a young horses fanciers dream come true. I remember the very first carousel I fell in love with to this day. Originally housed at Broad Ripple Park in Indianapolis, Indiana, my father took me and my brothers there on any given weekend beginning when I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember riding or watching it for hours until it was time to go home. As the story goes it fell into disrepair and was eventually purchased by the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis. Painstaking  in 1970 it was fully restored and is now housed on the top floor of the building in all it's former glory. For a mere 50 cents I believe, you can have a nostalgic ride on one of the many animals complete with the music playing as it goes round and round. > This excerpt is from the home page of The Childrens Museum in Indianapolis>

Our turn of the 20th century carousel animals were crafted by Gustav Dentzel. Originally, the carousel was installed on a Mangel-Illions mechanism in 1917 in Broad Ripple Park in Indianapolis, IN. The mechanism was destroyed in 1956 when the domed pavilion housing the carousel collapsed. The animals were salvaged and brought to TCM in 1970. Another Mangel-Illions mechanism and a 1919 Wurlitzer carousel organ were purchased to allow a full re-construction of the carousel. During the Carousel's Golden Age, around 1880 to 1930, some 5,000 hand carved wooden carousels were built in the United States. Fewer than 175 survive from that time period. The Carousel is the biggest gallery artifact as well as one of the largest in the museum. With all the musical sounds and beautiful colors, it is one no one should miss. It's fully operational, so climb aboard and dream away! ( see my photo above for a partial view of this carousel)

If money was no object I would hire a carver and have my very own life size wooden carousel horse made complete with a brass pole to display in my living room. In the mean time here is a wonderful resource and national association you can read about or join if you share my love for carousels >

Are you in love with the music too? Here is a music sample of typical carousel tunes played during your ride.

I hope you enjoy riding this hub as I enjoyed writing it. Comments and feedback are always welcomed.

Copyright 2011 © Lvh All Rights Reserved


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    Luke 5 years ago

    All Carousel horses were not made of wood only. Many in the 19th century were cast from brass or bronze. I own such a piece. It is exquisite and quite striking.

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    thank you Thebluestar, so glad you enjoyed it ;) I have been enjoying your Hubs too.

  • thebluestar profile image

    Annette Donaldson 6 years ago from Northern Ireland

    lovely hub and photos. The carousel was one of my favourite fair ground rides. I have lovely memories of meeting my first boyfriend whilst sitting on one of them. The photos are brilliant, but I don't remember my carousel horses looking quite so aggressive lol

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    thanks Micky Dee glad you enjoyed the ride! I might tweak it some more. lvh

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 6 years ago

    Carousel horses don't buck and hit your head on the stable crossbeams and drag you through the wild brown and green yonder. Great write!