Waterloo Carousel

Also known as: City of Waterloo Carousel
500 Park Ave., Waterloo, Wisconsin

2 row portable Parker carousel

Photos 

Pavillion

Yup, it's in there. The carousel is open on specific and limited hours. The carousel has been moved to higher ground after the flood of 2008, when it was severely damaged.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning

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Map 

Description 

The carousel was damaged during the floods of 2008. Local fundraising (still underway as of Fall 2010) generated enough revenue to relocate the carousel to higher ground in Fireman's Park. (For more information about the carousel, see the essay below.

C. W. Parker Amusement Company 

Written by J.R. Manning

Charles Wallace Parker was a carnie from Abilene, Kansas. As a young man, he traveled with carnivals and in 1892, bought a used carousel. It was in need of help, so he rebuilt the unit. He took off the manufacturer's name plate and replaced it with his own, calling his company the C.W. Parker Amusement Company.

Parker began building his own carousels and in 1911, built a factory in Abilene. While he was building his own carousels, he also continued rebranding other's carousels that he rebuilt. Because of that, no one is sure today just how many Parker carousels are left, probably less that 50.

Parker operated the company until his death in 1932. His son, Paul, continued to manufacture carousels until he retired circa 1950. When wood carving became impractical, the company began to use cast aluminum horses. The company continued making carousels into the 1940s when Paul Parker retired. It is believed that the C.W. Parker Amusement Company built about 1,000 carousels.

According to the National Carousel Association, 28 Parker carousels are known extant, 18 of those are wooden. The one in Fireman's Park in Waterloo, Wisconsin, is one of the few operational Parker carousels left. (Two more Parker carousels are extant in Wisconsin, one is reportedly in a traveling carnival from Wautoma and the other, a metal carousel, is operational at Ella's Deli in Madison.)

Parker Carousel #53 in Waterloo was built in 1911 and purchased from the Curtis Brothers Carnival (from Cuba City, Wisconsin) in 1925. It was placed in Fireman's Park and has been running there ever since. The carousel includes an operational 1915 North Tonawanda Band Organ and is a source of immense civic pride, even the city's water tower is painted to represent the carousel.

The carousel was fully restored between 1987 and 1991, however, it suffered damage during the floods of 2008. As of this writing, fund raising efforts are underway to move the carousel to a new location in Fireman's Park and to restore the carousel to its glory.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 15, 1997
Reference number
97000890
NR name
City of Waterloo Carousel
Areas of significance
Architecture; Entertainment/Recreation
Level of significance
State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Structure
Historic function
Fair
Current function
Fair
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant years
1910; 1911; 1926
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Contributing structures: 1

Update Log 

  • August 19, 2011: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • September 18, 2010: Essay added by J.R. Manning

Sources