Filed Under Entertainment

Euclid Beach Carousel

More than forty years after its last ride in Cleveland, the Euclid Beach carousel operates once again in the city, a testament to both the hard work of a number of non-profit organizations and Cleveland's enduring love for all things Euclid Beach.

When Euclid Beach Park closed in 1969, the carousel was sold to Palace Playland, an amusement park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Palace Playland itself closed in 1996, and the carousel went up for auction. This put the carousel in danger of being broken up, horse by horse, to a number of different bidders. The Trust for Public Land, however, a national conservation organization, provided an emergency loan to Cleveland Tomorrow (now a part of the Greater Cleveland Partnership) in an effort to bring the carousel back to Cleveland intact. The auction took place in July 1997 in Olmsted Township during a Euclid Beach memorabilia show. In a dramatic scene, the bidder from the Trust for Public Land secured the entire carousel - all 54 horses along with 2 chariots - with a final bid that came to $715,000. When the auctioneer hollered "sold," onlookers erupted in cheers. The carousel was coming back to Cleveland.

Once the carousel was purchased, however, it quickly became clear that funds were lacking to put it back into operation. In 1999, Cleveland Tomorrow gifted the horses to the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS). They sat in storage for a number of years, periodically being displayed around Northeast Ohio. A 2003 plan to return the carousel to the site of the old Euclid Beach amusement park fell through. Some doubted whether the carousel would ever actually be operated again. In 2010, Euclid Beach Park Now and the Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society, two non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving the history of Euclid Beach, collaborated with WRHS on a plan to place the carousel on the front lawn of the historical society's University Circle museum. A multi-million-dollar fundraising effort was launched to restore the carousel's mechanics and build a glassed-in pavilion to house the ride. The fundraising campaign was successful, and the carousel opened in November 2014.

Audio

Euclid Beach Band Organ This is a brief musical selection played by the Italian band organ that was located at the Euclid Beach roller rink from 1910-1969. While the American-made band organ operating inside the carousel was slightly different, carousel riders heard music similar to this while enjoying the ride.
Returning the Carousel to Cleveland Jim Seman talks about the efforts to restore and return the Euclid Beach carousel to Cleveland after it went up for auction in the mid-1990s. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

A Day at the Park, 1910 Euclid Beach's wood-planked boardwalk is filled with visitors in this 1910 photograph. The carousel building can be seen in the background. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Date: 1910
Euclid Beach Carousel PTC19, Post Card This carousel, installed at Euclid Beach in 1910, had 4 rows of horses, 3 inside rows of 44 jumping horses and an outside row of 14 nearly life size stationary horses and 2 chariots on a 60 foot platform. Euclid Beach Park advertised the new ride as, 'The Finest Carousel Ever Made.' It had an initial purchase price of nearly eight thousand dollars. A new 90 foot diameter building was erected to house the carousel. Source: Image courtesy of Euclid Beach Park Now Date: 1910
Remodeled Carrousel, Souvenir Postcard Around the mid 1930s, Euclid Beach Park made alterations to the facades of many of the rides, including the carousel, by incorporating an Art Deco look. The outside of the carousel's rounding boards and inside panels were changed. The horses originally rode the carousel at an angle, heads above their rumps. So that the horses would be more parallel to the platform, a new hole for the pole needed to be drilled; these were seen when the horses were restored in 1997. This change also required the legs of the altered horses to be changed. The horses were then painted completely white, with just the trappings receiving bright color highlights. Also at this time, Euclid Beach Park added the second 'r' to the ride's name: 'Carrousel.' Source: Image courtesy of Euclid Beach Park Now Date: ca. 1935
Flying Ponies Built in 1903 by the Herschell Spillman Company, the 'Flying Ponies' ride was Euclid Beach's second carousel. The horses on the ride were suspended from above, allowing them to swing out as the carousel turned. A unique feature of this particular carousel was that the entire machine was installed at a 10 degree angle, making the ride a bit more exciting as it revolved. The Flying Ponies operated at Euclid Beach Park until 1949. Source: Image courtesy of Euclid Beach Park Now
Euclid Beach, 1969 Many of America's traditional amusement parks closed for good in the late 1960s and 1970s. Euclid Beach Park came to its end at the close of the 1969 season. Some of the rides from kiddieland, as well as larger rides that could be easily moved, were placed in storage, to once again operate at Shady Lake Park, which Euclid Beach's owners opened in 1978 in rural Streetsboro, Ohio. Larger rides like the roller coasters were pulled down, changing them from towering vertical landmarks to horizontal rubble. PTC #19 was sold to Palace Playland, a small amusement park in the resort community of Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection. Date: 1969
Palace Playland, 1970s Old Orchard Beach is a summer resort town located on the Atlantic Ocean, south of Portland, Maine. Extending into the Atlantic Ocean is the town's Old Orchard Pier. In the early summer of 1969 two small amusement parks operated in Old Orchard Beach; Pier Amusements, north of the pier and Palace Playland, south of the pier. A fire broke out at Pier Amusements on July 19, 1969 destroying its old carousel and much of the park. Soon after, Palace Playland (which then did not have a carousel) purchased PTC #19 from Euclid Beach. It operated there until 1996 when the park's ownership changed At some point when PTC #19 was at Palace Playland the horses and chariots were repainted. They were no longer white with just the saddles and trappings getting color - they now had a variety of colors and hues all over their bodies. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Horses in Storage, 2006 In 1996, Euclid Beach's carousel was in danger of being broken up when news broke that Palace Playland would be sold, and that the carrousel was not included in the sale. Euclid Beach Park Now began a letter writing campaign to help save the carousel. With help from non-profits Cleveland Tomorrow and the Trust for Public Land, the entire carousel was purchased at auction for $715,000. The ride was then put into storage as additional funding was sought to put the carousel into operation somewhere in Cleveland. Date: 2006
On the Move, 2007 Men from Collinwood's Northeast Shores community group escort a PTC #19 horse owned by Euclid Beach Park Now down East 156th Street to its temporary display location in the front window of Northeast Shore's office. Date: 2007
Old Carousel Location, 2012 The spot where the carousel once sat at Euclid Beach Park is now occupied by a grassy area surrounded by a circular driveway and parking lots. Source: Image courtesy of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities Date: 2012
May Co. Playroom, 1931 Carousels in Cleveland could also once be found at places other than amusement parks. The May Company, a downtown department store, installed a small carousel in their store's children's playroom. Source: Image courtesy of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities

Location

Metadata

Euclid Beach Park Now and Michael Rotman, “Euclid Beach Carousel,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 17, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/519.