Looff Carrousel

Riverfront Park's Looff Carrousel is one of America's most beautiful and well preserved, hand-carved wooden carousels. It has 54 houses, a giraffe, a tiger and two Chinese dragons, all of which are hand carved. Charles I. D. Looff built the carrousel and had it shipped to Spokane as a wedding gift for his daughter Emma Vogel and her husband Louis Vogel. The pair owned Natatorium Park, which was originally a trolley park and later grew into an amusement park. The carousel was installed in 1909, and was a favorite among the park's many visitors.

When Natatorium Park closed down in 1968, Expo '74 planners hoped to relocate the carousel for display at the upcoming world's fair. Unfortunately, restoration and moving costs made it impossible to move the carousel for Expo. Instead, the carousel moved in 1975 to its current home in the former Expo '74 German Beer Garden. The original organ, a 1900 Ruth & Sohn Band Organ, is still in place, but due to the deterioration of some of its parts, a digital recording is now used.

There have been a few changes to the carrousel over the years. In the 1960s, metal stirrups were added to the horses. Before this there was only a small peg for the rider to use and people would often use the legs of the horses to help them climb up. This caused a lot of damage and many of the horses had to have legs replaced. Between 1992 and 1996 all of the figures underwent restoration, without any interruption of service. Now there is a maintenance system in place, where animals are rotated out for upkeep work. Photo records of this process are kept.

Looff was an accomplished carousel and amusement ride builder. He build the first carousel at Coney Island and in the process developed a new style of carousel construction that came to be know as the Coney Island style. In all he constructed over 50 carousels. He also built several roller coasters and twelve amusement parks as well as California's famous Santa Monica Pier.

Images

Riders enjoying the carrousel

Riders enjoying the carrousel

Courtesy of Spokane Public Library's Northwest Room. View File Details Page

Inspecting the horses

Inspecting the horses

Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room. View File Details Page

Inspecting a horse

Inspecting a horse

Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room. View File Details Page

Carrousel horse

Carrousel horse

Courtesy of page creator, taken a€ŽMay a€Ž26, a€Ž2012. View File Details Page

An Artist's Vision

An Artist's Vision

Although it was never moved in time for Expo '74, artist Keith Oka provided artistic renderings of the carousel for use in the World's Fair advertising campaign. Image courtesy of the Spokane Public Library's Northwest Room View File Details Page

An Artist's Vision of the Looff

An Artist's Vision of the Looff

Although it was never moved in time for Expo '74, artist Keith Oka provided artistic renderings of the carousel for use in the World's Fair advertising campaign. Image courtesy of the Spokane Public Library's Northwest Room View File Details Page

Audio

Looff's First Carrousel.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_I._D._Looff Paul Quam - A member of the Spokane Antique Carrousel Society View File Details Page

Dr. J. William Youngs on the Carrousel

Dr. J. William Youngs on how the Looff Carrousel arrived in Riverfront Park Interviewed by Lee Nilsson View File Details Page

Paul Quam a member of the Spokane Antique Carrousel Society

An interview I did with Paul Quam a member of the Spokane Antique Carrousel Society. View File Details Page

Video

Loof Carrousel Restoration

Images courtesy of SpokaneCarrousel.org - Restoration Articles
Audio source: SpokaneCarrousel.org - Restoration Articles View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jesse Roberts , “Looff Carrousel,” Spokane Historical, accessed July 2, 2015, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/183.
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