DeeDee at the Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round & Beach called us, only a month after Jill and Matt celebrated their anniversary there. She wanted to collaborate with us on a brass ring necklace to add to her Flying Horses Carousel merchandise.
Jill worked with DeeDee Buffum on the cord choice and then started tying, even making an awesome video of the necklace making for their Instagram page.
It is believed that the Watch Hill Carousel was made in 1867 by Andrew Christian and the Charles W.F. Dare Co. of New York City. The story goes that a traveling carnival brought the carousel to Watch Hill in 1883 and for some unknown reason abandoned it.
Originally the carousel horses were pulled by two men turning cranks. A few years later the men were replaced with real horses. The first horse to pull the carousel loved his job so much he escaped from his winter stable and was found walking his summer carousel path!
Ed Barber in 1897 installed water power to run the carousel. In 1914 Gill Beebe hooked up an electric motor.
This is a different sort of carousel, the horses are not on a platform but rather are hung by rods and chains from the overhead sweeps.They fly out as the carousel spins faster. Aptly named the Flying Horses Carousel.
This wonderful carousel survived the devastating 1938 hurricane and other disasters for 135 years. It is the only surviving flying horses carousel in the country. It has had many face lifts. The roof is classically unique and was originally canvas. The horses have been restored many times and in fact are spring rocking horses. As the wood worker restored them he went through many interesting layers of paint, a history of the different lives of the horses.
The idea is to catch the brass ring as you go around. I remember this so well from other carousels in New England. We would run in and try to get an outside horse so we could reach out and grab that brass ring which entitled you to a free ride. Here at Watch Hill, in the early days, the riders were given a sword to pierce the ring. Sounds kind of wild! And it probably was as now you use your right hand to hook the ring. If the rider can't use the free ride they are given a wooden token that is good through the end of the season.
Contact info for the Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round & Beach:
Jim & DeeDee Buffum 401.388.8136
151-153 Bay St, Watch Hill, RI 02891
Hours of operation on their website https://merrygoroundbeach.com/
Spend the day in Watch Hill https://connecticutlifestyles.com/spend-the-day-watch-hill-rhodeSpend the day in Watch Hill -island/
For carousel history buffs, learn more from this New York Times article