Allan Herschell Company
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The Allan Herschell Company specialized in the creation of amusement rides, particularly carousels and roller coasters. The company manufactured portable machines which could be used by traveling carnival operators. It was started in 1915 in the town of North Tonawanda, just outside Buffalo, New York, US.
Herschell, together with James Armitage, created the Armitage Herschell Company in 1873. In 1883, his son William traveled to London, England to meet former Limonaire Frères employee Eugene de Kleist. Backed by Armitage Herschell, in 1888 DeKliest set up band organ production in North Tonawanda, founding the North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory. The company produced a range of barrell-organ based products, suited for all ranges of fairground attraction.
Armitage Herschell remained in operation until the early 1900s. The company carved many portable carousels, made simple in style. Surviving steam riding galleries are located in Mississippi and Maine. In 1901, Herschell left the Armitage Herschell Company due to financial complications, thus allowing De Kliest to buy the pair out, and seek new investment from his association with Rudolph Wurlitzer.
Herschell created the Herschell Spillman Company with his in-laws, the Spillmans. Herschell Spillman started out creating and carving carousels in a traditional style, but later branching out to create larger park machines, such as elaborate carousels with many types of animals. Surviving carousels can be found in California, Michigan, and Maryland. The Herschell–Spillman Motor Company Complex at North Tonawanda was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.
The company later dropped Herschell's name and was known as the Spillman Engineering Company. The company continued to make the same style of carousel, though later it focused more on horses with a few menagerie styled machines. Surviving carousels can be seen in North Carolina and the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
Fourth and final company
The last company Herschell created was his own, competing with the Spillman Engineering Company, in 1915. Herschell specialized in horses with rigid poses and portable machines, which enabled them to be packed and shipped easily between towns. Herschell produced over 3,000 carved wooden carousels, which were shipped all over the United States and Canada, as well as other countries such as Mexico, South Africa, and India.
The factory was bought in 1915 and is located on Thompson Street in North Tonawanda. It is one of the last factory complexes in the United States which contained the production of wooden carousels. The complex was expanded to meet the growing company's needs. The building contains a large carving shop, a woodworking shop, a paint shop, a storage area, an upholstery shop, a machine shop and a roundhouse where the carousels were assembled and tested.
Herschell didn't create just carousel rides, but expanded to include rides made for children and adults. He thought up the concept for rides specialized for small children, called "Kiddieland." Twister, Hurricane, Flying Bobs, and the Sky Wheel were thrill rides catered towards adults.
Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, at the original factory site on Thompson Street, opened to the general public in July 1983, with a full operational carousel from 1916. The first floor of the factory has been opened up to provide exhibits and demonstrations. Different programs are offered, such as woodcarving of various skill levels, guided tours, and a summer lecture series. Special programs, such as Youth Volunteer Program and Neighborhood Partners Program are offered to young people and local elementary school children.
Surviving Allan Herschell Company rides
- Antique carousel (c. 1930), privately owned by Raymond Bahr
- Scottsdale Charro Carousel, (Herschell 1950) McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, Arizona; formerly at Benson's Wild Animal Farm in Hudson, New Hampshire
- Allan Herschell carousel (1947) at Harper Motors in Eureka, California, bought at auction by the dealership in 1991
- Chase Palm Park Antique Carousel (c. 1915-1917) in Santa Barbara, California, one of three machines produced by the Allan Herschell factory
- Herschel-Spillman Two-Row Portable Menagerie Carousel (1913), Story City, Iowa
- Allan Herschel Carousel (1949), Joyland Amusement Park, Wichita, Kansas
- George F. Johnson Recreation Park Carousel, Binghamton, New York
- Ross Park Carousel, Binghamton, New York
- George W. Johnson Park Carousel, Endicott, New York
- West Endicott Park Carousel, Endicott, New York
- Highland Park Carousel, Endwell, New York
- Stewart Park Carousel, Ithaca, New York
- C. Fred Johnson Park Carousel, Johnson City, New York
- Elaine Wilson Carousel (1918), Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York
- The Carousel (1965), a 36' diameter version at Storybook Gardens in Springbank Park, London, Ontario
- Carnivàle Lune Bleue (1938), Ottawa, Ontario, restored wooden carousel
- 1951 Catskill Game Farm 3 abreast now owned by Robert Briggs
- Little Dipper, a junior steel roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park
- Little Leaper, a steel roller coaster at Lakemont Park
- Wild Kitty, a steel roller coaster at Frontier City
- G-12 12" inch gauge miniature train
- G-16 16" inch gauge miniature train
- S-16 1865 16" inch gauge miniature train
- S-24 Iron Horse 24" inch gauge miniature train
- Caterpillar, at Canobie Lake Park, Salem, New Hampshire, US
- Caterpillar, at Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Allan Herschell Company.|
- Tim Trager (20 April 2008). "Some History on Limonaire Freres And Its Famous Band Organs". Carousel News. Retrieved 20 April 2008.
- "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 6/17/13 through 6/21/13. National Park Service. 2013-06-28.
- Chance, Harold (2004). The Book of Chance. Wichita, Kansas: Wichita Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-9649065-0-3.
- Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum - The Museum
- Funshine Amusements homepage
- "McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park - Scottsdale Charro Carousel". Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- "National Carousel Association". Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- The NCA Census of Operating North American Carousels
- James E. Jacobsen. "Herschel-Spillman Two-Row Portable Menagerie Carousel" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-02-06. with photos
- A Brief History of the Allan Herschell S-24 "Iron Horse"
- "Operating Classic Amusement Park Rides". National Amusement Park Historical Association. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "Major Carousel Builders and Carvers (Page 3 of 3) | An Introduction by Brian Morgan | NORTH TONAWANDA" National Carousel Association 24 Nov 2008