Monday, July 11, 2011

Carved Carousel Horses at Knoebel's

I’ve heard about Knoebel’s Amusement Resort for many years, but never had the opportunity to visit until the family went there to celebrate my Aunt Millie’s 80th Birthday last month.  Knoebel’s is a very unique and wonderful place.  It is an old fashioned amusement park with no admission charge and free parking!

The Grand Carousel

The prices for the rides are so low, at first I thought I was reading them wrong. The kiddie rides cost 75 cents and the big wooden roller coaster costs only $2.25.  Knoebel’s is not located on some busy interstate, but rather in a quiet valley on the back roads of rural central Pennsylvania.   It’s been family owned and going strong for over 85 years.  It’s probably the cleanest and best maintained amusement park that I have ever been in.

The Stein & Goldstein Carousel
There are hundreds of free picnic tables available for use, in various roofed pavilions, in “the grove”. We reserved four for the party. No charge. You may have never heard of Knoebel’s but you can bet the people of central Pennsylvania have. They keep it a secret for themselves, even though Knoebel’s has won international awards.

But Knoebel’s is more than just an amusement park. It is a “must visit” sight if you are interested in carved carousel horses. They have not one, but two carousels with carved horses, and an excellent carved carousel animal museum.

The Grand Carousel was built in 1913 by George Kremer, who bought the carved wooden horses from wood carver Charles Carmel.  It is a four-abreast machine that used to be at Riverside park in Rahway, NJ.  The Kiddieland Carousel was built around the same time by Stein and Goldstein in Brooklyn, NY.  Both carousels have beautiful examples of carefully restored carved horses from that period. You almost think they should be preserved somewhere instead of being exposed to daily wear and tear.  But then, that’s what they were carved for in the first place.
The Carousel museum is small but it contains a complete history of carved carousel horses and shows how they developed from crude figures to the elaborate styles of the early 1900’s, the Golden Age of Carousels.  They also have a fine collection of carved carousel animals other than horses.
It’s interesting to think that a century ago, when these beauties were carved, the carvers who created them were probably considered as little more than laborers, yet their artistic skills and craftsmanship would make them well respected artisans today.   Visit Knoebel’s and appreciate their work.


Anonymous said...

I love riding the Knoebel's Carousels! - Emma

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I got scooped on commenting here. Those are not solid pieces obviously... so are they carved in pieces and then fit together... or are rough cut pieces arranged on a frame and then they start at the nose and work their way back? I am trying to envision how thick the wood is before carving... in a revealing moment I just noticed how much easier it would be if they were molded plastic or foam, but that is your whole point isn't it... -Dave

John M. Casteline said...

You think too much. That's both good and bad, I guess. Chunks of wood are glued and fitted together to get the rough form of the horse. For instance, the legs or the side tilt of the head. The inside of the body has hollow voids. The rough shaping is clever construction, but the real art is in the carved details.

Fernanda said...

They are absolutely beautiful!!! Coming out of a dream!