A Carousel News subscriber recently wrote in looking for information on, or photos of the Illions Carousel from Willow Grove Park in Pennsylvania, which reminded me that I had this book awaiting review.
Willow Grove Amusement Park had an especially rich carousel history. The park opened with an E. Joy Morris Carousel in 1896 which remained at the park until 1905. In 1902 a second carousel, a Dentzel menagerie, was added to the end of the Midway. These two machines would be more than enough for any park, even today, but not for Willow Grove.
In 1906, The Philadelphia Toboggan Company installed PTC #11, a three-row menagerie which replaced the original E. Joy Morris machine. PTC had recently bought out Morris and the growing company would share profits on their new
machine with the park.
After the 1909 season, the original Dentzel in the second building was removed. Thomas Ryan was awarded the concession. He installed an M. C. Illions and Sons Carousel Works machine that he purchased from Coney Island. It was a four-row machine that would remain at the park until it closed after a series of fires and financial hardships in 1975. The lllions Carousel was purchased by Charlotte Dinger who displayed it at her Carousel World Museum in Peddler's Village in Lahaska, PA, until her death in 1997.
Images ofAmerica: Willow Grove Park
The Old York Road Historical Society
Willow Grove Park illustrates the fascinating history of one of America's most famous amusement parks. Willow Grove started as a trolley park in 1896. This park set the standard for providing first-class entertainment and amusement. Here John Philip Sousa, Victor Herbert, and Arthur Pryor gave daily musical concerts, while various rides thrilled those seeking more rigorous fun. Through a wide range of images, Willow Grove Park captures the rich history of this well-known icon.
The book's author, The Old York Road Historical Society, was founded in 1936 to study and perpetuate the history and folklore of the communities along and adjacent to the Old York Road. The Society's collections contain the largest group of historical material related to eastern Montgomery County, including some 70,000 photographic images. A few of these images were selected for this book and were supplemented by photographs from other public and private collections.