Monday, May 1, 2017

The Museum and Factory

The Herschell Carrousel Museum is in the building that used to be the Herschell Carrousel Factory:

The museum was opened in 1983 by the Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier. 

The carousel companies went through many transitions. The first company was a Tonawanda engine and machine company, started in 1872. The first carousel-type ride was a track with horses on it. This was powered by steam engines, and the horses rocked back and forth over bumps in the track. In 1901 the company became the Herschell-Spillman Company, which made carousels with poles and a crank shaft. Eventually Spillman broke away from the company and created Spillman Motor Co., which focused on making engines for cars. It was the Allan Herschell Company that moved to the building which now holds the museum in 1915. Allan died in 1927, and the Herschell company bought the Spillman factory also.

In 1970, the company was bought by Chance rides, which was based out of Kansas.
In 1998 the Allan Herschell company was bought back from Chance.

A Tour of the Museum

Some of the factory rooms have been changed for the museum, like the room that now holds the gift store, but many remain similar to how they were as factory rooms. The room where the horses were painted is now a display room for some of the carousel animals. In this room visitors can still see the paint caked on the wall and splattered on the floor.
This picture is of the display room in its' factory days. The horses are set up on tables to be painted.
The display room is set up in a timeline style, so visitors can see how the Herschell company changes over time.
Another timeline is displayed on the wall in a different room. This one shows major news and events about the company.
Chance Rides made many other attractions besides the carousels, most of which were aimed for children. These included: a roller coaster called the Little Dipper, Brownie tractors, an airplane ride called Flash Gordon, bumper cars, and a steam engine train. There are several examples of these rides on display at the museum.

On the left is pictured a bumper car, and on the right is the steam engine-powered train ride.

Another fascinating room at the museum is the workshop. On one side of this room are carving tools and parts of horses in the process of being carved. Here is a picture of what the workroom looked like during its' factory days:

All of the animal bodies were made in smaller pieces and then fit together in the end. The master carver made the heads of the animals, while the other workers made the smaller pieces like the legs and the body.

On the other side of the room is where the sheets of music were punched out for the organs. There are many rolls of paper stacked on shelves surrounding the hole punching machines.
The museum also has a round building that houses a beautiful carousel for visitors to ride on.

Band Organ Video

Link to a video of the Wurlitzer band organ playing music on YouTube: