Maine May Have Been Home to One of the First Carousels in the United States
It turns out that one of the first operating carousels in the United States was in Maine...or was it?
According to the Maine Memory Network, the Palace Playland amusement park at Old Orchard Beach first opened in 1902. One of the park's most popular attractions was Noah's Ark, a "kid-friendly, boat-shaped funhouse with hand-carved figures of Noah and his family." Near the beloved ride was a carousel, supposedly one of the oldest in the country.
The Vintage Carousels Facebook page provided some cool photos of the carousel back in its glory days, and identifies the ride as a 1924 Dentzel.
Whether this carousel was indeed among the oldest in the country is up for speculation. Despite what the Maine Memory Network states, an Internet search for the oldest carousels in the US revealed ones dating back to the 1870s. Regardless, Mainers have never forgotten the Old Orchard Beach carousel, nor the night it met its unfortunate fate.
On July 19, 1969, a large fire broke out and destroyed several Palace Playland attractions, including both the carousel and Noah's Ark. The community was heartbroken to lose these rides, which held precious memories for so many.
The carousel was no more, but its legacy didn't end with the flames. The Vintage Carousel's post explains that a replacement carousel was purchased one year later in 1970, and remained at Palace Playland until 1997. That ride was then moved to a history center and replaced by a new carousel, which still stands today.
The ill-fated Dentzel carousel may or may not have been among the oldest carousels in the country, but thanks to postcards, photographs, and memories, its legacy lives on to this day.
Speaking of amusement park throwbacks, here are some pictures of Funtown Splashtown from 1990.