Herschell-Spillman Carousel

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By BILL RODGERS / Tribune Chronicle

Visitors to the African-American Achievers Association annual festival will get the chance to try out a rare, vintage amusement park ride.

Bill Sams, owner of Sams Amusements, was busy Thursday morning setting up what he said was a 1922 Herschell-Spillman carousel in Warren’s Courthouse Square. The ride features the original horses.

“It’s all original. We rebuilt it after a fire almost destroyed it,” Sams said.

Sams wasn’t sure of the ride’s history, save that it sat in a barn in Elyria for years before the barn caught fire and damaged it. He got the ride for free from its owner.

Restoring the carousel to its original glory was the matter of three months of repairs and about $20,000, he said.

“The horses got the worst of it. They were really bad,” said Dave Conley, who worked with Sams on the project.

Conley and Sams researched the rides on the Internet for information on what they had. According to the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum Web site, the company dates back to the 1900s and specialized in portable amusement rides for traveling carnivals.

There are some changes to Sams’ carrousel. The floor is metal instead of wood, it uses a stereo instead of the old-time calliope, and some of the horses are fiberglass, but Sams believes his ride could be worth as much as $40,000.

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