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Cass County Carousel
The Cass County Carousel, located in the McHale Complex at Riverside Park, is a "merry-go-round" comprised of wooden animals that were hand-carved by one of the first American carousel manufacturers, Gustav Dentzel, and his artisans. As of 2017, it is Cass County's only National Historic Landmark, a designation achieved in 1987.
Logansport's carousel is one of three complete, stationary Dentzel Carousels in the country. The carousel's closest contemporary is located at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis.
The Logansport carousel is dated between 1900 and 1903, although it may predate 1900.
The carousel's first home was in a park owned by the Fort Wayne Consolidated Railway Company, where it was known as the Allen County Carousel. When the Fort Wayne park closed in 1919, Fort Wayne resident Frank Franz bought the carousel, shipped it to Logansport and placed it in Spencer Park.
In the early 1900s, a favorite Sunday afternoon activity was to travel by streetcar to Spencer Park on High Street to ride the carousel.
In 1928, Franz sold the carousel to Robert Dewey Schmidt for $1,000. Schmidt sold the carousel in 1936 after he was elected sheriff of Cass County. Robert Lawrence Jones bought the carousel for $900 and ran it with his nine children for 12 years.
Jones sold the carousel to his nephew, Harold Thomas, in 1948 and Thomas moved it to the busier Riverside Park.
Lawrence Kandler bought the carousel in 1963 and ran it until his death in 1969. According to the carousel's website, it sat idle with an uncertain future from 1969 until 1972, when residents learned that it was up for sale and could possibly be moved out of the community.
The Logansport Jaycees raised about $21,000 during a radiothon, purchased the carousel for $15,000 and the remainder of the money started the non-profit Cass County Carousel, Inc. Eleven volunteer board members run the carousel.
In 1993, community support and donations of more than $700,000 enabled the complete restoration of the carousel. The carousel was sent to Mansfield, Ohio in February 1993 to be renovated and painted in its original colors. The carousel returned home and was in operation by the 4th of July.
The McHale Community Complex was built in 1995 to enclose the carousel and a Stinson Electric Band organ was built especially for the carousel in 1999.
In 1999, a medium black horse carved by the Dentzels in 1905 was found at an antique store in Baltimore, Maryland and purchased for $9,000. It was sent to The Carousel Works in Ohio to be restored.
The carousel's menagerie of 43 hand-carved Dentzel animals includes horses, reindeer, goats, giraffes, a lion and a tiger. The main supporting center post is an old ship mast. There are also two two-seat chariots and a third single seat, handicap accessible chariot was designed by an anonymous donor.
In 2000, the carousel's board of directors decided the carousel needed a lead horse. "Princess Logan," the white horse decorated with jewels and a strap reading "Cass County Carousel," is the only animal on the carousel with a name.
The wooden sign on the exterior of the building's east side was hand-carved in 2012 by Logansport native Matt McGrath. McGrath passed away in 2016 and was honored during the 2016 Carousel in the Park Festival.
The carousel is open on weeknights and weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and the carousel train also runs on weekends. The carousel is also available to rent for private parties and is open on select holidays throughout the year as well.
Children of all ages enjoy riding the carousel and trying to "grab the brass ring" to win a free ride. The ring chute is filled with about seventy silver rings and one brass ring that riders reach for each time they pass the ring chute. The free ride token given to the rider who catches the brass ring is good forever.
The Pop Up Art and History Trail is presented by the Cass County Visitors Bureau in partnership with Logan's Landing, the Cass County Historical Society, the City of Logansport and Cass County Communication Network (published by Existential Media LLC) as a way to encourage residents and visitors to learn more about our community's history and local attractions.