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Brenham History: Antique Carousel

June 10th, 2011 by Pamela Murski

Antique Carousel's Flying Horse, Brenham TX

Just minutes from the ranch, Fireman’s Park carousel begins summer rounds with free rides on Brenham’s historic carousel in Fireman’s Park on Friday June 10, 2011.  The carousel will be open from 6:30-8 p.m. this Friday, June 24, July 8 and 22, and Aug. 12 and 26.

The carousel with its horses and benches have been revolving here for decades, and its history is fascinating, said Dr. Wilfred Dietrich, president of the Washington County Arts Council, which is sponsoring the free rides.

The wooden horses, abandoned in Clay, 20 miles northeast of Brenham were restored and placed at Fireman’s Park.   A 16-sided building built by the WPA and thought to be the one of the few left in Texas, was constructed to the house the horses in 1935.

According to research, wooden carousels date to 1912.   Before electricity, carousels were steam-powered. Carousels are descendants of Old World jousting machines that medieval knights used to practice their sport.   In carousel workshops that began as early as 1867 in Philadelphia, craftsman built the horse with hollow bodies and solid legs and heads that were joined with wooden dowels and glue. The Master Carvers added decorative accents and flourishes.   Some horses had golden manes, inlaid jewels, and patriotic flags and eagles. America’s oldest carousels are called “flying horses” like the Brenham carousel, because the horses hang on metal rods rather than riding on a platform. The oldest Flying Horse Carousel is at the C.W. Park Carousel Museum in Leavenworth, Kansas, the oldest operating merry-go-round in the nation.



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