The Grand Carousel

Knoebels Grove- Elysburg, Pennsylvania

 

One of the most beautiful carved pieces I have seen.  Note the chariot and organ in the background.

          Carousels do not come more perfect than the Grand Carousel at Knoebels Grove in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.  Since everything about this carousel makes it a classic it is hard to know where to begin.  Knoebels bought the machine at the beginning of December, 1941 from a park in New Jersey (either Perth Amboy or Riverview Park).  Most experts estimate it was first erected in 1912.  It is housed today in what one might call the quintessential carousel building, nestled within the trees of the Pennsylvania foothills.  Upon approaching usually one of the many organs that surround the carousel are playing a tune from days gone by, inviting you and your children to pay the seventy cents and climb aboard.  There are several organs around the carousel including a Frati (came with the carousel), a GebrΓΌder and a Wurlitzer (from Camden Park) near the ride's drum.

The arm on the left is where you catch the brass ring, except when the picture was taken the dispenser was still tucked in the arm.  To the right is where you toss the rings after the ride is over.

          The machine was carved by George Carmel and uses a frame from Charles Looff.  It was brokered and assembled by Kremer's Carousel Works of New York, New York.  It has four beautiful rows and features horses with detailed expressions.  My favorite is the elegantly decorated lead horse that Knoebels uses in many of its advertisements.  The gold armor and blue saddle pad are so well carved that one might mistake them for the real thing.  Like the carousel, the chariots are flamboyantly carved and painted; oranges, greens, reds and blues all mix in some sort of fantasy contraption.

 

 

One of the many fine pieces of artwork on the outer rim.

          Most people traveling to Knoebels do know one thing about this ride- it has a brass ring machine.  Only a handful of carousels still offer this treat from days gone by.  After the carousel is up to full speed a large arm is lowered and riders on the outer row get their chance to grab for the brass ring.  The machine dispenses many metallic rings, but only one brass one, which is good for one free ride on the carousel.  After the arm is retracted the riders throw their brings into a large lions mouth that stands to catch them.  When the ride ends some riders look up for the first time and see what they are really riding.  The outside rim is adorned with small American flags and scenes from the Nineteenth century such has hunting, a steamboat, etc.  All things considered it is one of the most beautiful machines to be found in the world.  A special thanks to John Moyer for some carousel and organ information.  As usual it was a treat to talk to this Knoebels legend.

 

The horses have a sense of magic about them.  Check out the horse in the background with its drooping tongue.

A Carmel horse paws aimlessly at the ground.

A beautiful night ride on the Knoebels carousel.

Grabbing for the brass ring is just as fun today as when my grandmother did it in the Twenties!

Looking back through the carousel.  Notice the colored filigree, the Kremer's Carousel Works sign and the starting bell.

 

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Adam Sandy, Copyright 2001.