An article appeared in the New York Times, on May 13, 1928, entitled, The Carousel Means Summer. It was about a horse-drawn carousel going ‘round and ‘round with joyful children seated on six or eight colorfully painted iron horses serenaded by a hand-organ. On a perfect summer day, as a young child, I can remember hearing the sounds of organ music such as Rosie O-Grady, the Sidewalks of New York and other happy go-lucky ballads playing while seated atop an elaborately painted wooden horse.
There were once 6,000 carousels in operation across the United States. Today, according to the National Carousel Association, there are only a few hundred left. There are eight in Colorado and all but one, were built more than one hundred years ago.
The carousel at Elitch Gardens is a classic wooden carousel that was built in 1928 for the original Elitch Gardens. It has 44 jumping horses, 18 standing horses and four chariots.
Listed on the National Historic Register, the Kit Carson County Carousel in Burlington, CO was built in 1905 for the original Elitch Gardens and was relocated to its site along the Eastern Plains in 1928. It boasts 25 standing horses, an assortment of other animals plus four chariots, all mounted on a 45 foot diameter platform. Each of the animals were hand-carved and painted. Following the year it was designated a Historic Landmark in 1987, they embarked on an 18-month project to restore the original paint to the animals, a painstaking task.
Are you curious about carousels in Colorado and around the United States? The National Carousel Association has a searchable database with all the nitty-gritty!
Books at Denver Public Library
The Carousel Keepers: An Oral History of American Carousels by Carrie Papa
Carousel Animals: Artistry in Motion; Text and Photographs by Tobin Fraley (does not checkout Western History & Genealogy Dept; Central Library)
Painted Ponies: American Carousel Art by William Manns; text by Peggy Shank
Kit Carson County Carousel: Burlington, Colorado (does not checkout; in the Western History & Genealogy Dept, Central Library)
A Pictorial History of the Carousel by Frederick Fried