George R. Williams Memorial Carousel

Historic Carousel

Brief History

The number of carousels built in the United States between 1867 and 1930 cannot be confirmed. Historians estimate 4,000 to 6,000 machines and 80,000 hand carved horses/animals were produced in the dozen or so factories/shops that produced carousels and related amusement devices. The golden age of carousel construction ended with the Great Depression of 1929.

In 1994, according to the National Carousel Association’s census, only about 165 of the all wood, hand carved machines were operating or were undergoing restoration. Colorado claimed 5 of them.

Over half of the hand carved horses / animals were lost to fire or other disasters. The remaining examples of this unique form of American art are found in public displays and private collections. Two national associations promote the restoration and preservation of carousels, animals and related items.

The American Carousel revolves counterclockwise. That is why the right side, known as the Romance Side, exhibits the most intricate carving. The emigrant wood carvers’ styles help identify the factory/shop, lead carvers and years of production.