Not So Merry-Go-Round For Saratoga’s Hand Operator
Not So Merry Go Round For Saratoga’s Hand Operator
Hand Powered Merry-Go-Round, Luna Park, Rexford, New York
Circa 1906 to 1910
With the mechanization of entertainment apparatuses dating back to 17th century French royalty, the first American horse-powered merry-go-round was introduced and used without an engine on Smith’s Island, an amusement park in Delaware in the late 1860s. Apparently, Michael Dentzel, a German-born immigrant brought the idea to America and his son Gustave invented the first American-made entertainment apparatus of the “go-round” type by 1867 in his shop at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Installed at Smith’s Island, Dentzel soon developed an engine for the devise, and, by 1881, a horse-powered carousel for Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, he truly revolutionized the business when he devised a steam-powered merry-go-round suited with a band organ in 1881. The jumping and moving creatures set within the device as mechanisms came later–in 1898.
Amusements at Luna Park began in 1906 at Rexford, New York. Dolle’s Park, The Colonnade, adn Rexford Park were all names given to the venue at various times, a history that would last through the mid 1930s. Rather a long life for a semi-rural American venue, the park was dismantled in 1935, probably as a result of the crash and the decline of Saratoga as a vacation spot of the middle and upper classes. Probably collected or taken by George A. Farral, this black-and-white image shows just how out-of-date the park was as the merry-go-round was operated by hand-power.
And as for technological advancements, we feel it our duty to report that in 2005 a one William Henry Dentzel III invented the world’s first solar powered version. Furthermore, we have it on good authority that he and his entire family are dizzy with delight with their enginuity, a feeling of self-importance that has gone round and round from one generation round to another.