The Cowboy Carousel, manufactured at North Tonawanda, New York in 1925, ran for 63 years on Gillian’s Fun Deck in Ocean City, New Jersey. The horses that are now on the carousel are fiberglass reproductions of original wood carvings by local renowned Buffalo artist and wood carver, Bill Jennings.
The carousel is important, therefore, historically, as a 1925 Spillman Carousel, and artistically, as a carousel restored with horses and figures carved by a noted local artist. As such, it would be an important cornerstone to Buffalo’s historic district and an important cultural part of Buffalo’s history that would be preserved. Add to this that carousels are much beloved and a major tourist attraction.
The lead horse on the carousel is painted to represent Steamboat, the famous Wyoming bucking horse. Steamboat bucked at Cheyenne Frontier Days from 1903 to 1914 and was ridden twice in his career. The Indian pony is Little Soldier, a pony ridden by a Crow scout at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The Indian symbols painted on the pony represent various Indian signs to assist the horse in battle. The Seventh Cavalry horse, complete with authentically carved McClelland saddle and U.S. Cavalry issue bit, is painted to represent Comanche. Comanche was ridden by Captain Miles Keogh at the Battle of the Little Big Horn and was the sole survivor of General Custer’s immediate command.
The Spillman Carousel has been restored as closely as possible to its original colors. A picture of this machine in its original condition hangs in the Smithsonian Institute. The Cowboy Carousel is now an important part of Buffalo’s history. Because of Emerson Scott’s vision, this historic carousel came to Buffalo. Because of Emerson’s wonderful vision he had a great local artist create the first and still only truly Western Cowboy Indian Carousel based on historic details.
The Arts Along the Bighorns organization is purchasing another piece of history, the old Beutler Feed Store on Lobban, which is one block off Main Street. They will use this 1920 railroad building, with a few renovations, as a new building for the carousel, and an open courtyard and stage. These will make up the Cowboy Carousel Center.
For more information and a video, please visit http://cowboycarousel.com/ , and YouTube under Cowboy Carousel.