Makers & Shakers
Ride the Rides
Museum Honor Roll
CHARLES I.D. LOOFF
Looff (May 24, 1852 - July 1, 1918) carved the original Palace carousel and is considered to be the first great American carousel maker. Born in Schleswig Holstein, Germany, he emigrated to the United States in 1870. He created his first carousel in 1875 out of scrap wood from a furniture company where he worked, and soon went into business in Brooklyn, later moving to East Providence, Rhode Island, and Long Beach, California. Looff produced 40 major carousels during his career.
A few early carvings produced by Gustav Dentzel (Aug. 9, 1846 - Jan. 22, 1909) of Philadelphia were included on the original carousel. The Dentzel Company was a leading creator of the Philadelphia style, featuring natural and realistic depiction of horses and menagerie animals. The company carved from about 1870 until 1928. Dentzel immigrated from Germany and was one of the earlier carousel builders.
WILLIAM F. MANGELS
Mangels rebuilt, expanded and modernized the Palace carousel following a fire in 1910. An engineer and ride manufacturer from Coney Island, Mangels was a carousel builder who never carved a carousel horse. According to the National Carousel Association, he commissioned carvers to create a complete set of horses which he then installed on one of his own frames. Born in Germany, Mangles came to the United States at the age of 16. He began building and designing amusement park rides in 1886. Along with his son, he invented and held the U.S. patents for a jumping mechanism that set animals in motion for the first time. He died on Feb. 2, 1958 at the age of 92.
MARCUS CHARLES ILLIONS
Illions carved the replacement figures following the 1910 fire. Born in Moscow, Illions began sculpting wood at age seven, and as an early teen, moved to England to apprentice under the renowned carousel and amusement manufacturer, Frederick Savage. In 1888, Illions relocated to the U.S. and by 1890 had gone to work for Charles I.D. Looff. Illions is credited with adding a dynamic vibrancy to the style that epitomized Coney Island carvings, including the use of gold leafing and flying golden manes. The National Carousel Association has recognized Illions as one of the two greatest artists of the carousel world. He died on Aug 11, 1949.
PHOENIX IRON AND BRIDGE COMPANY
ROTATING WHEEL AND OBSERVATORY
Phoenix Iron Works, of Phoenixville, PA., built the Palace rotating wheel and observatory in 1895. The company evolved from a grist mill (1783) to the first nail factory in the U.S. (1790) to the manufacturing of railroad rails (1846) to one of the country's first anthracite blast furnaces (1890). By 1891, it was the first factory in the Schuylkill Valley to produce puddle iron on a large scale. Each piece of the Palace's rotating wheel is numbered and bears the name "Phoenix."
PRETZEL RIDE COMPANY, BRIDGETON, N.J.
DARK RIDES: GHOST TOWN, HAUNTED CAVES, HELL 'N' BACK, GHOST RIDE, WHACKY SHACK, HAUNTED CASTLE, ORIENT EXPRESS
ALSO: THE DONKEY RIDE
One of the great contribution to American amusement parks during the early 20th century took shape on the east side of Tumbling Dam Pond in Bridgeton, New Jersey, where an accomplished pianist named Leon Cassidy and his business partner, Marvin Rempfer, came up with the idea of running cars along an electrified track twisting through a spooky dark place. When a wobbly passenger staggered off the ride, claiming to have been bent like a pretzel by the experience, Cassidy and Rempfer named their company the Pretzel Ride Company and by 1928, they were marketing to parks nationwide. Pretzels quickly became synonymous with haunted houses, using darkness and the twisting motion of the tracks to send disoriented riders flying toward ghosts, witches, spiders and worse. With a break for World War II, and until finally falling victim to changing tastes, more than 1,400 Pretzels were sold and operated worldwide. All Palace dark rides were designed and built by the in-house creative teams around Pretzel tracks and for use by Pretzel trains.
BUMPER CAR MAKERS
Dodgem cars were invented in 1919 by Max and Harold Stoehrer of Methuen, Massachusetts. A 1921 test by Scientific American called the rear-steering Dodgem cars "highly unmanageable ... the steering is only relative." It didn't matter. People liked banging into one another and Dodgem cars became wildly popular. Dodgem went out of business in the early 1970s.
The success of Dodgem cars caught the attention of Joseph C. and Robert J (Ray) Lusse, cousins whose Lusse Brothers machine shop in Philadelphia manufactured roller coaster parts for the Philadelphia Toboggan company. They spent nine years perfecting the bumper car, especially solving the erratic steering problems that plagued Dodgem cars. By the 1930s, the Lusse Auto Skooter had eclipsed the Dodgem in popularity, only to later face competition from Italian manufacturers Soli, Barbieri, and Berratzon. Rights to the Auto Skooter design were sold in 1994 to Designs International in Dallas.
ALLAN HERSCHELL COMPANY
The Allan Herschell Company, founded in 1915 in North Tonawanda, New York, was a prolific maker of carousels that over time expanded its line with thrill rides such as the Twister, and the Caterpillar, and a specialized group of rides designed for small children.
The Company maintained its North Tonawanda operation until the late 1950s, when it moved to Buffalo. It continued as a locally owned firm until it was sold in the early 1970s to Chance Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas, a rival maker of amusement rides.
Chance Amusements started producing rides from its facility in Wichita, KS., in the 1960s. Known throughout the industry as Chance Rides, its rides included Inverter, Aviator, Big Dipper Family Coaster, Tin Lizzies, SlingShot, Chaos, Alpine Bobs, Wipeout, Yo-Yo, Giant and Century Wheels, Pharaoh's Fury, Zipper, C.P. Huntington train, Tramstar LFT and a full line of carousels. In June 2001, the company merged with D.H. Morgan Manufacturing, Inc. to form Chance Morgan Coasters Inc.
EYERLY AIRCRAFT FACTORY
Lee Eyerly, one of Oregon's old time aviators, went broke a half dozen times trying to build airplanes. Then, son Jack, quite by happenstance, built a plane that wouldn't fly and his fortune was made. Since that day in 1931, the Eyerly Aircraft Company of Salem, Oregon engineered and mass produced hundreds of classic amusement rides such as the Monster, the Spider, the Rock-O-Plane, Loop-O-Plane, Sidewinder and Fly-O-Plane.
DARK RIDE AND FUN HOUSE MONSTERS, ANIMATIONS
MESSMORE AND DAMON
Many monsters and animated animals used in the Palace Fun Houses and dark rides were leased or in some cases purchased outright from the New York firm of Messmore and Damon of New York. The company found its way into the monster business after creating props and special effects for plays, motion pictures, and department store displays. It created a domed exhibition for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair depicting the world one million years earlier, featuring prehistoric men and realistic, animated animals.
For the New York World's Fair in 1939, it created a three-acre recreation of New York City during the previous century.
ANIMATED DISPLAY CREATORS
Early during the Depression, Ivan Olkon, the son of a Russian emigrant, left law school at the University of Minnesota for a job selling lithographs of ice cream sundaes to drug stores for display in windows. One thing led to another, and by 1932, Olkon was producing and selling wax replicas of foods, later adding animated figures to draw attention to his creations. In 1938, he founded Animated Display Creators, Inc. in Minneapolis in order to produce displays for the food industry and department stores. The business prospered until the early 1950s, when companies shifted their advertising dollars away from window displays to television, and Olkon decided to give the amusements industry a try. Shifting operations to Florida, ADC artisans turned out thousands of freakish and scary papier mache creatures that animated Fun Houses and dark rides in amusement parks across the company closed it's doors in 1977.
PHILADELPHIA TOBOGGAN COMPANY
Founded by Henry B. Auchey and Chester B. Albright in 1902, the Philadelphia Toboggan Company is best known for its roller coasters and trains, thus the "toboggan" in its title. The company, however, produced carousels and many other amusement rides and devices. In 1945, it acquired the rights to Skee Ball from Wurlitzer and sold Skee Ball machines to the Palace.
By Custer Cars.
Invented by the prolific manufacturer Norman Bartlett, of Miami, Fl., and manufactured under a 1959 patent.
Manufactured by Grover Watkins (also known as Venture Rides & Hi Lite Rides) of Paducah, Kentucky.
French import, manufacturer unknown, circa 1919.