Irresistible Carousels

VIA readers go round and round about their favorite  carousels in California, Oregon, and Montana.

Carousel Columbia at Great America, image

Great America's Carousel Columbia is a double-decked carousel.

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A CAROUSEL FOR MISSOULA
Missoula, Mont.
"A must for a visit by any person of any age," writes Rosa Skillman of Wilsall, Mont. "The hand-carved basswood horses, the sing-along music—this beautiful carousel in Caras Park on the Clark Fork River is a real state treasure." www.carrousel.com.

FLYING CAROUSEL OF THE DELTA BREEZE
Davis, Calif.
"At this small carousel near the farmers' market," says Gayle Veale of Yreka, Calif., "it's difficult to tell who's having more fun—the kids riding the eight whimsical animals or the kids pedaling the cranks that are the machine's source of energy." www.davisfarmersmarket.org/picnic.

GREAT AMERICA'S CAROUSEL COLUMBIA
Santa Clara, Calif.
"I grew up going here," writes Kanoe Hardin of Santa Cruz, Calif. "Every time I see the huge, two-story carousel and hear the calliope music I feel like a kid again. It's the West's tallest merry-go-round, and I've always felt a thrill sitting near the edge on the second level." www1.cedarfair.com/greatamerica.

GREAT NORTHERN CAROUSEL
Helena, Mont.
"It's the best by far," says Sara Hagen Hull of Billings, Mont. "Not only are there stained-glass renditions of landmarks around Helena, the state's capital, you can ride on Montana's animals—and who could resist riding on a river otter's belly? You can't beat the ice cream, either." www.helenacvb.visitmt.com/attractions.html.

GRIFFITH PARK MERRY-GO-ROUND
Los Angeles
"Absolutely beautiful," says Tracey Zierten of Dayton, Nev. "Installed in 1937, it has 68 horses, all with jeweled bridles. The old-fashioned organ plays 1,500 marches and waltzes. My fondest memory is of the brass ring that you could reach for as you flew by." www.laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithpk/mgr.htm.

HARPER FORD CAROUSEL
Eureka, Calif.
"A classic Herschell wood carousel kept at a car dealership on Highway 101," writes Holly Sage of Cutten, Calif. "It's a local favorite. The horses glimmer with flourishes executed in automobile paint, and it's free. You have to holler to be let off or wait for someone else to come along to ride." www.harpermotors.com.

JANTZEN BEACH SUPERCENTER MERRY-GO-ROUND
Portland
"My family's favorite outing in the 1950s was to the big amusement park on Hayden Island in the Columbia," says Kathryn Zerbe of Kenai, Alaska. "This 1920s carousel never failed to wow me with its beautiful carved steeds, intricate flourishes, and bright gilding. I still ride it every time I visit." www.jantzenbeachsupercenter.com/info/history.cfm.

NOAH'S ARK CAROUSEL
Portland
"You never forget your first," writes Daphne Rice of Portland. "I can still remember my earliest ride many years ago on this old timey merry-go-round in Oaks Park. It's a two-deck ‘menagerie' model with rabbits, kangaroos, and frogs as well as the usual horses." www.oakspark.com.

SALEM'S RIVERFRONT CAROUSEL
Salem, Ore.
"Beautiful to behold and a joy to ride," writes Traci Durrell-Khalife of Corvallis, Ore. "It's graced with armored horses, jumpers, standers, prancers, and even a zebra and a mule. It was built entirely by volunteers who donated some 80,000 hours of carving, sanding, and painting. They worked city symbols into the designs." www.salemcarousel.org.

SAN FRANCISCO ZOO DENTZEL CAROUSEL
San Francisco
"This one trumps them all," writes Sarah Congress of Truckee, Calif. "The 50 animals come to life in their vibrant colors—brighter now that the carousel's been refurbished. As a child I had to take multiple rides because I could never choose between the giraffe, the tiger, the ostrich, and the lovely horses that glide up and down." www.sfzoo.org/about/carousel.htm.

SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK LOOFF CAROUSEL
Santa Cruz, Calif.
"You've got to love it," says Dian Duchin Reed of Soquel, Calif. "Ninety-six years old, this merry-go-round still offers rings to toss at a clown's mouth and plays tunes from a 342-pipe organ. When kids mount the horses, they're transported to a land of enchantment." www.beachboardwalk.com/02_carousel_ride.html.

TILDEN REGIONAL PARK MERRY-GO-ROUND
Berkeley, Calif.
"Fabulous!" writes Susan Lease of Mill Creek, Wash. "This carousel was built in New York in 1911 and has had other California homes, but since 1948 it's been here in Tilden Park. The loud organ music and ringing bells announcing the start of a new ride are always a delight—not to mention the exquisite horses, zebras, deer, dragon, and frog." www.ebparks.org/dropdown/play.htm.

WILLIAM E. "BILL" MASON CAROUSEL
Los Gatos, Calif.
"You're sure to hear ‘Again! Again!' when the ride ends," writes Robin Bulanti of San Carlos, Calif. "The fully restored carousel was built in England for the 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition in San Francisco. Little ones love riding the painted horses and hearing the carnival music from the organ. Truth be told, adults love it too." www.bjwrr.org.

Photography courtesy of Great America

This article was first published in May 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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