Allan Herschell Company

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A 1920s Allan Herschell Company merry-go-round at Trail Dust Town

The Allan Herschell Company historically was a company that 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. Now the Allan Herschell Company L.L.C operates as a company that supplies replacement parts and service to existing Herschell rides.


Previous companies[edit]

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.[1] 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 Herschell Armitage Company due to financial complications, thus allowing De Kliest to buy the pair out, and seek new investment from his association with Ruldoph 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.[2]

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.


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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

The company moved to Buffalo, New York, in the 1950s, and in 1970, it merged with rival amusement park company Chance Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas.[3]

Present-Day Operation[edit]

In 1998 the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum acquired the assets of the Allan Herschell company at auction and returned the company to North Tonawanda, New York. The company is currently operating as a parts supplier for the approximately 1,000 Allan Herschell rides that are in operation.

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum[edit]

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, at the original factory site on Thompson Street, opened to the general public in July 1983,[4] 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.

In 2013 the museum opened a small Kiddieland testing park that consists of rare Herschell Kiddieland rides.

The museum acquired a 1925 Artizan band organ in 2014, bringing the organ back to its town of origin, North Tonawanda, NY.

Surviving Allan Herschell Company rides[edit]


Herschell Spillman merry-go-round in Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, CA is a splendid antique carousel with hand-carved and beautifully painted wooden carousel animals to ride. The calliope-style music will make any child's heart sing. [10]

Roller coasters[edit]


S-24 Iron Horse 24" gauge train at Van Saun County Park in Paramus, New Jersey
  • G-12 12" inch gauge miniature train[11]
  • G-16 16" inch gauge miniature train[11]
  • S-16 1865 16" inch gauge miniature train[11]
  • S-24 Iron Horse 24" inch gauge miniature train[11]

Other rides[edit]


  1. ^ Tim Trager (20 April 2008). "Some History on Limonaire Freres And Its Famous Band Organs". Carousel News. Retrieved 20 April 2008. 
  2. ^ "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. 
  3. ^ Chance, Harold (2004). The Book of Chance. Wichita, Kansas: Wichita Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-9649065-0-3. 
  4. ^ Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum - The Museum
  5. ^
  6. ^ The NCA Census of Operating North American Carousels
  7. ^ Funshine Amusements homepage
  8. ^ "McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park - Scottsdale Charro Carousel". Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ "National Carousel Association". Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d A Brief History of the Allan Herschell S-24 "Iron Horse"
  12. ^ a b c "Operating Classic Amusement Park Rides". National Amusement Park Historical Association. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ Dutch Wonderland (A Kingdom for Kids) Ride Operations Handbook 2014

External links[edit]