One of our favorite past times is visiting and riding on carousels whenever we can find them. We’ve made sure to include them in any blog that has a carousel in the vicinity and this blog is the queen of them all. The Herschell Carrousel Museum is the origin story for many of the wondrous carousels we have ridden.
They are one of the last existing complexes in the United States which housed the production of wooden carousels. “Of the 148 antique, hand-carved wooden carousels still in existence in the United States and Canada today, 71 were manufactured in North Tonawanda in one of the four Herschell companies. The Allan Herschell Company had a major influence on the development of the American amusement ride industry, where this influence continues to be felt.”- http://carrouselmuseum.org/site/about/allan-herschell
Located in North Tonawanda, New York, this museum is a short car ride from Niagra Falls. If you have a passion for this old fashioned amusement ride, are a child at heart, or just have an interest in local history, this is a great place to visit. They have a collection on display of various carousel animal styles dating over a sixty year period. Beautiful horses, a wild boar, and even an ostrich are among the variety on display. If you’re more interested in the creation of these works of art, there is a large wood carving shop to explore that also includes a department of music rolls for the Wurlitzer.
There is a small Kiddieland testing park outside for little ones to ride old fashioned amusement rides. We were too big to ride, but what a blast down memory lane! I had to take a picture with the boats. We had this ride at our local amusement park when I was a child. I remember when I was five or so and ringing the bell on the boat every time I passed my grandma watching me from the gate.
The highlight of our visit was riding on the 1916 #1 Special carousel accompanied by a Wurlitzer military band organ. The antique wooden horses along with the American band music transports you to a glorious past, imagining a time when these carousels thrilled adults on their jumping and racing horses.
If you plan your trip in advance, check out their events. You might be able to enjoy a special presentation, woodworking class, or even meet Santa.
The are located at 180 Thompson Street in North Tonawanda, New York. They are real close to Niagra Falls, so we combined our trip to include both. See our blog at Niagra Falls .
The entrance fees are very reasonable ($7 adults; $5 seniors, $3.50 children ages 2 – 16; under 2 free). Admission includes one ride token; additional tokens may be purchased for $.50. We were given round wooden tokens with the factory logo to ride the carousel, but it was tempting to keep as a souvenir. (You can purchase one in the gift shop.)
They’re open 7 days during the summer, but close by 4:00pm. You could easily spend 3-4 hours here if you were really interested in the history and displayed collections. If you’re bringing younger children and only plan on hitting the highlights and the rides, 1-2 hours should suffice. (April – June and September – December the hours vary with closures on Monday & Tuesday. The museum closes completely January-March.)
The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is listed on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Sites.
Video of Artizan Military Band Organ: