The NYSM Carousel

This full-sized carousel, made between 1912 and 1916 by the Herschell-Spillman Company of North Tonawanda, New York, represents the heart and soul of amusement rides at the turn of the 20th century. Did you know there are more carousels in New York than anywhere else in North America?

NYSM H-1975.134.NN

Carousel History

This carousel was first used in Wellsville, Allegany County, in 1916 and was transported to local fairs around the Southern Tier of New York and northern Pennsylvania. During the 1930 and 1931 seasons, the carousel was based at Olcott Beach on Lake Ontario (pictured). It later was located at Cuba Lake’s Olivecrest Amusement Park in Cuba, Allegany County, where it operated until the early 1970s. The Museum purchased the carousel in 1975 from Robert Hopkins of Cuba and fully restored and installed it here in 2001.

Carousel Horses, Deer, and Donkey

The animal figures pre-date the machinery and platform and are some of the oldest in the country. The horses were hand-carved in 1895 by German immigrant and toymaker Charles Dare in his Brooklyn shop. The deer and donkey appear to be of another make. They were originally mounted on a steam-driven track carousel, where they only moved in a circle, not up and down. They became “jumpers” around 1915 when the present frame was built.  

Guiding Questions:

  • Why does the carousel have so many lights?
  • What animals are on the carousel?
  • What makes the animals jump? (Hint: Look at the tops and bottoms of the poles.)

To learn more about the carousel, visit:

NYSM Carousel History: 

NYSM Museum Moment Video (1:23 minutes)

NYSM Coloring Page - Carousel (thumbnail)

Color Our Collections!

Download this printable coloring page and get creative with this object from the NYSM Collections!