Americana 1900- The Complete Presentation

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
@James G. I don’t think this is being said enough:

This project is absolutely amazing. As a theme park, Americana 1900 fails dramatically, in the same way that Disneyland failed as an amusement park. It breaks all the norms, from area music to trash cans to talking about torture devices, and in doing so has invented an entirely new category of themed entertainment. Americana 1900 is a cross between a museum and a theme park in the best way possible. It’s at the same time more educational than Epcot and more magical than Disneyland. Thank you for designing this park, taking such careful time to perfect it, and presenting it to this whole forum now.
Wow...ok...I'm sitting here practically in tears. You just mentioned everything that I was hoping to achieve in Americana 1900, and we're less than halfway through the presentation. There is so much more that I can hardly wait to share with you, and as much as I want to just start posting everything right away, I think it's best to "stay the course" and share each section carefully so as not to overwhelm everyone with too many facts, too much history- too much stuff. That's one of the most important things that I would want real-life visitors to Americana 1900 to do- I would want them to take their time, stroll through the Townships and take in the atmosphere, the sights, smells and tastes of a past that, even if it wasn't as "perfect" as we'd like it to be, at least in Americana 1900 we can pretend it was. I want to edutain my readers without them really minding or even noticing.

I want to share with them the Americana 1900 that I see in my mind. In my mind, Americana 1900 is a real place. Thanks to all who are exploring it with me.

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The first building we come to on Davis Street is the Americana County Jail, which will be discussed later in this presentation.


Courthouse Clothiers


The 1881 Elias Kauffeld Building, originally the home of the German Mutual Society Savings and Loan of Pittsburg, Pa., houses Courthouse Clothiers, where shoppers can find an extensive line of clothing featuring Americana 1900 logos and Courthouse Square insignias.

Built in a style generally called Victorian Renaissance, this solid brick structure presents an elegant yet restrained facade. An unusual decorative feature is a datestone located centrally on the building’s front, with a carved beehive and the construction date. It is believed to relate to a famous German phrase “Arbeit macht das Leben sub”- “Work makes life sweet.”


T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and sweatpants, and many other modern apparel options are available here in one of the most popular stores on Courthouse Square. While the merchandise might not be familiar to the shoppers in 1900, the interior decor would be, with hand-carved details in the woodwork, an elegantly-painted pressed-tin ceiling and ceiling fans gently moving the air. The logos for “A Trip to the Moon”, “Vaudeville!”, “Ghost Town Square”, “Jail Breakers” (to be presented in the Keystone Studios section), and the ever-popular “Crypt of Fire” can be found on all styles of shirts, coats, jackets and hats. The wearable souvenirs found in Courthouse Clothiers are among the most popular items shown off at home after a visit to Americana 1900.


A Scents of the Past
The 1887 J.J.Fleck Building in Tiffin, Ohio, (heightened by one story for Americana 1900) houses A Scents of the Past, a combination perfumery and scented candle shop where patrons can discover the perfect fragrance for their “significant other” or a signature fragrance for themselves.


The extremely ornate cornice on this building brings a sense of drama to what was originally a simple drug store. Along with specializing in veterinary medicines and animal food supplements, the J.J.Fleck Company became the second-largest producer of Easter Egg dyes in the nation.


Egg dye is not what is sold here, though. Over a hundred bottles of essential oils and specially-created fragrance mixtures are available for sampling, and the expert “scent masters” here can help shoppers find their perfect aroma, or even create a special blend just for them.


Also available are aromatic candles of all sizes and decorative designs, incense, scented wax, bathing needs and skincare products. A special section devoted to men and their personal fragrance needs allows them to browse through more masculine scents while avoiding the more “floral” aromas that women often prefer. Finding A Scents of the Past is easy- just “follow your nose!”



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Past Times Clock Shop


Once upon a time, clocks had to be wound by hand. There was no such thing as an electric clock, or a digital clock, or any type of clock that wasn’t wound by a key or run by a weight. The Past Times Clock Shop, housed in a recreated three-story building from Charleston, South Carolina, specializes in timepieces that run the old-fashioned way, with hands that turn, watches that “tick” and pendulums that rhythmically swing back and forth.

The history of this building is confusing. Documents show it being built in 1806, but it might have been rebuilt in 1852. The facade was replaced, according to city records, in 1870, but the date on the cornice is 1892. Regardless, the original structure, located on Broad Street in Charleston, features an unusual recessed central cornice section and cast-iron window hoods with stylized lion heads in the center of the pediment.

Wall clocks, desk clocks, wrist and pocket watches, even the old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock with the metal ringer on the top- all can be found covering the walls and filling the display cases of this fun, sometimes noisy but always intriguing clock shop. There are also modern electronic clocks to be found- but no digital clocks. Every clock here is a style that would look right at home on a living room wall or fireplace mantle in 1900. The selection of Anniversary Clocks, traditionally displayed under a glass dome, is among the largest to be found in the nation.


Whether a shopper is looking for an alarm clock that will not fail them during a power outage or an elegantly-mounted timepiece to decorate their mantle, the Past Times Clock Shop is the place to find it.


The Milton Hershey Chocolate Shop


The Rochester, Minnesota Masonic Temple of 1901, destroyed by fire in 1916, has been rebuilt and stands proudly at the intersection of Davis Street and Jefferson Street, where it houses the Milton Hershey Chocolate Shop on its first floor. The Hershey Company is an official corporate sponsor of Americana 1900 and is the “Official Chocolate” of the park. In this charming (and wonderful smelling!) store, shoppers can find every Hershey Chocolate product wrapped in historically-designed wrappers, packaged in antique-looking boxes and jars, and available in both single pieces and elaborate gift assortments. Many of the Hershey Company’s currently available products were introduced after the “official” dates of Americana 1900 (1880-1920) but are still available here, in specially designed heritage packaging that imitates the appearance of the official era.


In recognition of the origins of this building, a small door to one side of the store entrance and lettering in the windows on the third floor indicate that this is the meeting place of Rochester Lodge #21 AF&AM (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons). This lodge still exists and is still active in Rochester, Minnesota.



The first building on Jefferson Street is the Americana Theater, with its marquee facing Davis Street. “A Trip to the Moon” is showing here, and has been discussed earlier.


The Paper and Ink Store


In 1880, in Hastings, Minnesota, the simple yet stately Finch Building was constructed to house the J.E. Finch Drug Store. Visitors to the original structure complimented it for its elegant interior, especially for what were described as “black walnut chandeliers.” This elegant interior has been recreated today on Jefferson Street and now houses the Paper and Ink Store, an elegant shop filled with stationery of all sizes, shapes, quality and patterns, writing implements including fountain pens and ink, and accessories for desks such as pen holders, paperweights and desk organizers.


Special orders can be placed here for custom-designed holiday cards and personal stationery, and this store offers complete wedding stationery packages as part of the Americana Wedding Service program. A selection of reproduction Americana-era greeting cards, wrapping paper and even sealing wax and personalized wax stamps make the Paper and Ink Store one of the most charming shops on Courthouse Square.


James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The next building on Jefferson Street, the Last National Bank and Funeral Service, was previously discussed, and is based on the 1927 First National Bank Building of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, with embellishments specially designed for its “unique” business.

Past the “bank” is the intersection of Jefferson Street and South Maple Grove Road. On the opposite side of this intersection is the Mary Mac Tea Room, described earlier. West of Mary Mac’s is the next retail business on Jefferson Street, The King Arthur Baking Company Store.


The King Arthur Baking Company Store


The Detroit Cornice and Slate Company Building, constructed in 1897, is a masterpiece of the popular Beaux-Arts style of architecture of that era. Its facade is finely crafted from galvanized steel, allowing elaborate details to be quickly and permanently created without having to use carved stone, especially in areas where suitable stone for architectural ornamentation is difficult and expensive to procure.

It now houses the King Arthur Baking Company Store, only the second outlet operated by the company and is inspired by the company’s extremely popular original outlet in Norwich, Vermont.


Founded in 1790, the King Arthur Baking Company is America’s oldest flour company. Originally called the Sands, Taylor and Wood Co., it originally imported flour from England. In 1896 it renamed its product King Arthur Flour and committed to using only the finest American-grown wheat for its products. Over the years King Arthur expanded, offering a wide variety of flours and other baking needs, and now, as the King Arthur Baking Company, sells everything the home baker could ever imagine they would need to make the finest baked goods possible.

Like the original store, the Courthouse Square store sells a vast array of baking implements, including measuring cups, bowls, baking sheets and utensils, and offers the finest quality spices and baking ingredients, flavorings and yeasts. Every item found in the famous King Arthur Baking Catalog can be found here, along with some unique test items not yet found in the catalog. A visit to the King Arthur Baking Store is a must for every home baker- or for anyone who wants to become one.




From the intersection of Jefferson Street to the Orpheum Theater, the west side of Washington Street would be a solid blank wall, the side of the Orpheum Theater, except for the fact that the entire wall has been concealed by a recreation of the 1882 Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, New Mexico. Each of the storefronts on the first floor, with one exception, are themed to represent businesses that shoppers in Courthouse Square would expect to find in 1900, but that would not be practical to have in Americana 1900. The doors to these storefronts are actually emergency exit doors for the Orpheum Theater, whose auditorium stretches the entire length of Washington Street north from the Orpheum lobby.

Frank Simpson Fruit Company


The Frank Simpson Fruit Company Shop and Cart is the only exception to the above statement. This sidewalk vendor is located at the north end of Washington Street, where his shop meets the buildings on the northwest corner of the Square. This is a seasonal stand that sells fresh and dried fruit and vegetable snacks as a sidewalk vendor, with a small space inside the storefront for preparation and storage (which is not open to the public). Bottled fruit and vegetable juices, along with flavored waters, are also available here.

The rest of the Plaza Hotel Building is occupied by (according to the signs over the businesses’ entrances from right to left) Jacob’s Piano and Music Sales, W.J. Webster & Son, Butchers and Talbot’s Furniture.


None of these are actual operating stores, but each have display windows that are fully stocked to replicate actual stores. They also have signs hanging on the door or in the window stating that they are “Temporarily Closed for Remodeling” or “Closed for Vacation” or some other reason for not being open.


James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Americana County Jail


The Bellingham, Washington YMCA of 1908 was the inspiration for the brick and stone Americana County Jail building, on the northeast corner of Davis Street and Main. County jails were often located inside the county courthouse building, but after the “incident” of the second courthouse it was decided to use the former site of the late Judge Wagner’s home (which mysteriously burned to the ground shortly after his courthouse was similarly destroyed) to erect a new jail, separate from the new courthouse but close enough to conveniently transport prisoners to their court hearings or arrange meetings with their lawyers.

Richardsonian Romanesque is the architectural style of this unusual building. Inspired by the Romanesque Revival period of the late 1800s, it takes its influence from 11th and 12th century southern French, Italian and Spanish architecture. This style of design is known for its clear, strong picturesque massings, flat or round-headed Romanesque arches supported by short, squat columns, recessed entrances and richly-varied rustication of its flat surfaces. The use of this design style in the Americana County Jail gives it a strong, almost fortress-like appearance.

It now houses two important services for visitors to Americana 1900. First, it contains offices and facilities for the park’s Security Department and Emergency Services, and second, it houses a first aid and medical services center for this part of Americana 1900.

Visitors strolling down Main Street towards State Fair might notice an unusual third-floor window near the back of the building. The windows on this floor, as on all the jail windows, have iron security grates over them, to prevent any possible escape by prisoners, but the grate on one third-floor window is missing, and a rope made of tied-together sheets dangles out of the window! Someone appears to have escaped from the jail! Who? How? The answer can be found in Keystone Studios.

The Americana County Jail provides all those services that visitors to Americana 1900 hope they never have to use- emergency, security and first aid- but if they do, they can always remember what the sign by the main entrance says:



Unity Chapel


Even today, it would be rare to find a town square without at least one church occupying a prominent location. Religion was and still is a powerful force in both public and private life, and the stately Unity Chapel, on the corner of Main and Washington Street, stands as a symbol of that importance. This is a non-denominational chapel, not actually an attraction, but it provides an important service to both the visitors and the Townsfolk of Americana 1900. The Unity Chapel is a place of quiet, a place to reflect and slow down during a potentially hectic visit to Americana. It is usually open to the general public, and is often used by visiting church groups as part of the “Sunday in the Park” program, a combination of worship and recreational activities. The only times it is not open to the public is during one of the many weddings that are held here every weekend, and sometimes several times on the same weekend. This brick and stone chapel, with a slender wooden steeple soaring over its central bell tower entrance, can seat two hundred in its simple sanctuary.

The Unity Chapel is not a replica of any specific structure, but is inspired by many Americana-era churches and chapels that either still stand on their own town or courthouse squares, or whose appearance has been preserved in drawings or photographs. The solid oak pews were rescued from an abandoned Methodist Church near Fostoria, Ohio, and the elegantly-carved marble baptismal font was found in an antique store in upstate Vermont- advertised for sale as a planter or birdbath (!). The sturdy, simple yet inspirational altar came from a Baptist church near Cleveland, Mississippi that was moving into a new facility, and the pulpit and lectern were donated by members of the Board of Directors of the Americana Land Company, having been recreated from photos of a late nineteenth-century Lutheran church near Omaha, Nebraska. The pipe organ, located in a small loft above the entrance, was built by the Schantz Organ Company of Orville, Ohio.


The windows of the Unity Chapel are the feature that stands out most in this beautiful place of worship. Inspired by the windows in the 1890 Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church, located northeast of Tiffin, Ohio, each window is unique, and is based on traditional quilt patterns. Quilting circles from churches across the country were asked to create a non-denominational quilt for one of the five windows on each side of the sanctuary, the “rose window” above the altar, and several other smaller windows in other rooms of the chapel, and these quilts were duplicated in stained glass by master crafters for installation in the Unity Chapel.


A plaque beneath each window identifies the creators of the quilt that inspired the windows, and the original quilts are on display in a gallery located under the main sanctuary, in the space often referred to as Fellowship Hall. During the day, weather permitting, sunlight streams through these stained-glass windows, flooding the chapel with warm colors, and at night the chapel windows glow with interior lighting.

The Chapel stands in a beautiful churchyard, surrounded by carefully tended flower beds and a black wrought-iron fence. The bell loft in the base of the steeple contains only a single bell, rung by a rope. The steeple itself is topped by a gilded carving of a hand pointing up to Heaven, inspired by one topping the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson, Mississippi.


The Unity Chapel is a place of peace, quiet and reflection in the heart of Americana 1900- Courthouse Square.
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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Public restrooms are located off of the first-floor lobby inside the Courthouse. There are also restrooms located in the Mary Mac Tea Room Building (women) and Last National Bank Building (men), with entrances off of South Maple Grove Road where Courthouse Square meets Century Plaza. Restrooms for patrons of the Orpheum Theater are located off of the inner lobby.


Drinking fountains are located near all four corners of the Courthouse lawn. Traditionally designed trash and recycling bins are located conveniently throughout the Township. Many park benches can be found around the Courthouse, including lining the plazas leading to the entrances.

In the center of the northwest corner of the Courthouse lawn stands a beautiful Blue Spruce, planted by the Founder of Americana 1900 and used as the official Christmas tree of the park. Other smaller trees grow throughout Courthouse Square, and many of the windows in the buildings that face the Courthouse have flower boxes hanging beneath them. Streetlamps, lit with flickering lights that recreate the look of gaslights, line the streets and have brackets for hanging flower baskets on them.


Strolling through Courthouse Square at night is like walking into a living stereoscope photograph. The Courthouse is bathed in a warm, sepia glow, with the magnificent clocktower and the statue of Lady Liberty on the dome softly glowing, seeming to float above the square.


The sales windows in the surrounding shops are lit, but softly, gently, as if being illuminated more by candlelight or gaslight than by Mr. Edison’s light bulbs. The windows above the shops give the entire Township the look of a living community- some are lit with lamps in the windows, or perhaps the blinds have been pulled down and glow softly from the interior lights behind them. Occasionally, a light might be turned off, or turned back on, and a visitor to Courthouse Square relaxing on a park bench might wonder what family lives on the second floor of the Finch Building, or if the Masons are meeting in their lodge rooms up on the third floor above the Milton Hershey Chocolate Shop.

Courthouse Square- the Soul of Americana 1900.




James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

(Optional atmospheric music for State Fair)

Main Street extends nearly the entire width of Americana 1900, starting at Railroad Street and ending in The Pike. It seems reasonable to continue our tour of Americana 1900 by proceeding east on Main Street to our next Township, a township that celebrates the history of amusement park rides more so than possibly any other in Americana 1900. As we stroll past the County Jail on our left (remember the rope of tied-together sheets hanging from the window?) and Teddy’s Bear Fair on the right, we find ourselves passing under a decorative gateway constructed completely of ears of corn with bundles of wheat, bales of hay and sheaves of corn stalks- an entire archway, created from the harvest of America’s farmers. Spelled out across the top of this agricultural masterpiece is a phrase that tells us exactly where we are:



Three of these arches, one at each entrance, welcome visitors to State Fair Township. Each gateway arch is unique in design, and was created by and dedicated to the 4-H Clubs of Alabama. While each is made of simulated agricultural materials (to avoid having to constantly rebuild them since all-natural materials would eventually decompose in the elements), they firmly establish the agricultural theme of State Fair to visitors. Around the base of these archways and throughout the entire Township are beautiful gardens of flowers, decorative vegetables such as cabbages and kale, and even crops such as corn, wheat and cotton. Also on display around the fairgrounds are examples of historic agricultural equipment, such as the latest 1905 steam-powered tractor and horse-drawn plows. These gardens and historic displays are a subtle reminder to visitors that this is not just a carnival, but is State Fair, and agriculture is what made this fair possible.


Say the words “State Fair” to most Americans and a wide range of thoughts and memories come to mind: the sights of carnival rides spinning and flags waving from the racetrack cupolas; the smells of prize-winning floral arrangements and freshly-baked apple pies; the sounds of screams, laughter or both from the roller coaster and the dodgems; the taste of freshly-spun cotton candy and hot-off-the-grill chicken; the feel of a cool summer breeze as the sun goes down and thousands of twinkling lights illumine the fairgrounds. All of this and more can be experienced in the most adrenaline-filled Township in Americana 1900- State Fair!



1898 was a historic year for Americana County. In that year, after decades of the Alabama State Fair being held in various temporary locations throughout the state, a decision was made to find a permanent location for the fair. Several cities and counties lobbied for the honor, but it was soon obvious that the best location by far was on the site of the Americana County Fair, the largest and finest county fair in the entire American South, and thus the Americana County fairgrounds became the new, permanent site for State Fair.


Visitors to State Fair will only see part of the huge state fair site, but what they will see and be able to enjoy is the heart of the fair, the State Fair Midway, with rides for the entire family, games of skill, wonderful foods and unique shopping opportunities, all in an atmosphere of excitement and family fun. State Fair can be entered from four other Townships: from Courthouse Square and The Pike via Main Street, and from Maple Grove and Century Plaza via State Fair Road. State Fair contains one of the most complete collections of historic amusement rides ever assembled in one place. Some have never lost their popularity and appeal, while others have been forgotten by all but the most devoted amusement park historians. However, they all share a few common traits. They are appropriate to the era and theme of Americana 1900. They are in many cases important to the development of many of the high-tech experiences that later twentieth and even early twenty-first-century theme and amusement parks offer. Most importantly, they are still fun to ride. These rides, along with the dining and shopping opportunities found here, make State Fair one of the most popular and well-loved Townships in Americana 1900.





Exploring State Fair
State Fair is triangular in layout, with Main Street forming the base on the south end and East and West State Streets forming the sides, meeting at the point where State Fair Road enters the Township from the north. A series of ride buildings called the Machinery Sheds occupy the center of the Township.

As we enter State Fair from Courthouse Square, passing under the agriculturally-themed welcoming arch, we see a row of concession stands and carnival games on our right, stretching the entire length of Main Street as it proceeds through State Fair. In the center of this row of brightly-colored food and game stands is the ride building for Thunderbolt and Lightning, a massive roller coaster that rises above and behind the concessions to the south of the Township.

Turning left onto East State Street, on the corner it shares with Main Street, is the Grange Hall Barbeque Restaurant. North of this, nearly the entire east side of the Township is occupied by what in a traditional State Fair would be the grandstand for the racetrack, but here is occupied by Steeplechase, with its own grandstand and the Family Album Photography Studio and Gift Shop located under the grandstand. At the north end of East State, where State Fair Road enters the Township, is the Blue Ribbon Shop.

Crossing State Fair Road, we now proceed south onto West State Street, first passing the Penny Arcade on our right, and then the Flying Turns. The final attraction on West State Street is the large tent-like structure that houses the Fearsome Critters Side Show.

Proceeding from north to south, the center of State Fair is occupied by the Looff Memorial Carousel, the North Machinery Shed (which houses the Scrambler and Tilt-a-Whirl), the “State Fair Brand” Corn Dog Stand, and the South Machinery Shed (containing the Dodgems and Whip rides). The South Machinery Shed is flanked by the Tumble Bug to the east and the Caterpillar to the west.​



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The amusement rides found in State Fair are all rides that would have been familiar to visitors to the hundreds of amusement parks that were once found across the nation. When possible, original rides have been brought to Americana 1900, refurbished and restored, and have now found new life entertaining families from across the nation and around the world. In some cases, no surviving examples were either available or suitable for restoration, but in those situations a new ride was constructed based on the original designs, and emphasis was put on authentically recreating the original ride experience. In all cases, modern safety mechanisms and features were installed to meet all modern safety codes. Some of the rides found in State Fair might appear to be temporary rides, but this is only because the original ride was, indeed, a temporary installation and Americana 1900 decided to recreate the ride experience as completely as possible. All rides in State Fair are installed and maintained as permanent attractions, with the appearance of impermanence perhaps adding to the thrill. It is possible that this sense of surviving danger is part of the fun that modern riders take away from rediscovering and reliving the rides that our grandparents experienced all those years ago at their own State Fair.
Some of the State Fair rides might fall slightly outside the 1880-1920 years of Americana 1900, but their importance in the development of modern rides warranted their inclusion in State Fair. Each ride has a commemorative plaque and information sign explaining the history of the ride and its importance to American amusement park culture.

Note: We’re exploring State Fair in a similar manner as we did with Green Springs, moving counterclockwise around the perimeter, then from south to north down the middle of the Township.

Thunderbolt and Lightning (AAP)


Dominating the entire southern side of the fairgrounds is one of the most beautiful and unusual roller coasters in America, Thunderbolt and Lightning, an RMC coaster with a dual personality. It- or perhaps we should say “they”- are not racing coasters or dueling coasters in the traditional sense. Americana 1900 has christened them “mirror” coasters, closely following the same layout as each other, but in reverse, and doing so while intertwining their tracks and support structure. To add to the unusual nature of these coasters, they are actually two different kinds of coasters- “Thunderbolt” is a wooden coaster, with wooden supports and the traditional wooden “roar” and feel to it. “Lightning” is a steel coaster, with steel supports (constructed to look like wood for aesthetics) and with the speed and smoothness of a truly great steel coaster.

The loading station, located in the center of the row of concessions and games on Main Street, is inspired by the traditional wooden roller coaster stations of the early Americana era, with white ornamental cupulas sporting flags on its bright red roof. This station serves both coasters, with separate side-by-side entrances for each coaster. The lift hill for Thunderbolt rises to the left (east) and for Lightning to the right (west). At the top of the 140ft. hills the trains plummet down a 59-degree descent, banking sharply (to the right for Thunderbolt, left for Lightning), and from there on the trains race through the twists, turns and hills of these breathtaking coasters, often passing each other in apparent near-misses, and mimicking each other’s movements in an amazing achievement of coaster design.


Thunderbolt provides the deafening roar. Lightning provides the blinding speed. Together, Thunderbolt and Lightning truly are very, very frightening- but also very, very fun!


Tumble Bug


The early history of the Tumble Bug is vague, but it was most probably first introduced in the mid-1920s. The oldest one with a verifiable date was at Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania, dating from 1925. Six round cars, each capable of carrying eight riders, are propelled around a circular, undulating track one hundred feet in diameter by long poles attached to a central ride mechanism. Each car rotates on its own axis, moving up and down on the rising-and-falling track while spinning around at the same time.


Once found in nearly every amusement park and fairground midway in America, only one other operating example of the Tumble Bug exists today, at Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania. The Tumble Bug, so titled because it was usually decorated to look like a series of bugs, carries families on a fun, mildly-thrilling and nostalgic ride through America’s amusement park past.



Steeplechase (AAP)


The Steeplechase was the heart, soul and namesake of Steeplechase Park, the most popular and successful of the Coney Island, New York parks from 1897 until 1964. Part roller coaster, part scenic railway with a hint of derby racer thrown in, it was a ride unique in concept and design. Several times fire destroyed the ride, or even the entire park, but it was always rebuilt, a “phoenix rising from the ashes,” and once again Steeplechase has been reborn, this time at Americana 1900.

The Americana Steeplechase, which dominates nearly the entire east side of State Fair, is a Zamperla-built coaster that blends the launched motorbike technology of Pony Express at Knott’s Berry Farm with the visual theme and ride experience of the only remaining example of an original Steeplechase ride, the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Steeplechase in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, to create a coaster experience unequaled by any of its forerunners.

Guests enter the loading station, which resembles the grandstand of an impressive horse racing track of 1900, white with tall, slender columns and a towering cupola topped with fluttering flags surmounting the roof. Passing through the queue area, guests can read signs and examine displays explaining just what a steeplechase horse race is, and how it differs from a regular horse race. A steeplechase is not run on a traditional horse racing track, but is a cross-country distance race where horses must leap over fences and hedges, across ditches and jump over streams and other water hazards. The name comes from early races when riders used a church steeple as a reference point to orient their location in the race.


The multiple tracks and ride vehicle design is among the most technologically advanced in the roller coaster world. The Americana Steeplechase consists of eight parallel tracks that proceed side-by-side through a beautifully landscaped out-and-back course of forest and fields, over fences, hedges and even roads, and past a rural Southern church with a tall, landmark steeple. Eight side-by-side tracks can accommodate ride vehicles designed to look like sleek racing horses, similar to the horses on Pony Express at Knott’s Berry Farm but bearing more resemblance to the sleek, streamlined racing horses on Cedar Downs at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. As on Cedar Downs, each horse is designed for two riders per horse, one riding behind the other. Also as on Cedar Downs, the horses race on individual parallel tracks side-by-side against each other. This arrangement of multiple tracks and horses allows for near-continual loading and unloading of riders while others are racing, with up to 128 riders on the course at one time. Passengers mount their horses and sit on saddles with automatic restraints to hold riders securely in their seats.


After their riders are seated and secured, the eight horses and their sixteen riders advance to the “starting line.” A bugle trumpets “First Call,” also known as “Call to the Post,” and they’re off!, each horse reaching a speed of 38 m.p.h. in less than three seconds. They race each other over hedges, around trees and barns and take several high-banked turns up to a height of 44 feet. Each track is designed to have the same distance to travel. Since the inside tracks on the turns would be shorter than the tracks further out, extra hills or swerves around trees or other natural obstacles have been added to make each track have a total length equal to the others. To add to the excitement of the Steeplechase experience, each horse also has a galloping motion built into its supports, so that the riders not only feel the speed as they surge forward down the track, they also feel the gait of the horse as it gallops down the Steeplechase course. Throughout the race, magnetic propulsion systems, brake sections and multiple computer safety sensors keep the horses racing at full speed while ensuring the safety of the riders and control over the horses. Coming into the final stretch, a final burst of speed is added to create the feeling of the horses pushing themselves to win the race.*

*Note: The horses race in a counterclockwise direction around the track. The map drawing has them racing clockwise. In England, steeplechase races are run clockwise, but in America (and Americana 1900) they are run counterclockwise.

The computer system operating and controlling the racehorses is designed to provide for random winners of each race, so that no one horse or “position” becomes the favorite for experienced riders. The winner is offered to pose for a complimentary sepia photograph of themselves wearing a victor’s wreath. Other riders can also have their photo taken in the Family Album Steeplechase Photography Studio, located beneath the grandstand that overlooks the finish line, and can purchase an online photo taken during the race. All photos are done in the sepia tones of the era, long before color photography was common, or even available. This shop also sells Steeplechase-themed souvenirs (to be discussed in the Merchandise section of this presentation under “Grandstand Shoppe).


Regardless of who wins, each rider of Steeplechase will have a winning experience on the most unique roller coaster in Americana 1900, and possibly in all of America.


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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Flying Turns (AAP)


In 1926 John Norman Bartlett, a British World War I pilot, came to America with an idea for a bobsled-like amusement ride, using wheeled toboggans and a trackless wooden chute. Only a few were ever built in America, but their reputation as thrilling, exciting and unique rides established their place in amusement park history. Here at State Fair, the fun and excitement of racing down a trackless wooden chute is being rediscovered by countless riders on this new incarnation of the original classic.


Based on an improved version of the “Flying Turns'' constructed at Knoebel’s Amusement Park in Pennsylvania, the Americana Flying Turns features three trains of three cars, each carrying six riders up a sixty-foot lift hill, through a 1,200-foot long wooden trough, around highly-banked curves and down straight-aways at nearly twenty-five m.p.h. to a thrilling finish. It stands as the centerpiece of the west side of State Fair’s Midway.




James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The Fearsome Critters Sideshow (AAP)


Sideshows have been a part of fairs and carnivals since their earliest days. Some presented scantily-clad females doing suggestive (for the era) dances; others showed animals with real (or sometimes fabricated) malformations- the “two-headed calf”; the “lamb with five legs”, etc.; still others put humans with severe birth defects on display, from the “bearded lady” to conjoined twins (such as Chang and Eng, the famous “Siamese Twins”). These were enormously popular for decades, but times changed and society no longer approved of the exploitation of people or animals in such sideshows. Regardless, these shows were an important part of the fair and carnival experience for many years.

How to include a sideshow into State Fair without offending visitors? The answer was found in the most unlikely of places- in the tall tales that were told around the campfires of the logging camps of America in the early 1900s. These stories were shared by lumberjacks to pass the time around the campfires at night, and sometimes to haze and initiate new lumberjacks- “greenhorns.” In 1939 Henry H. Tryon collected these stories and published them in his book “Fearsome Critters,” with illustrations by his wife Margaret Ramsay Tryon, and this book is the source of the many bizarre, fantastic and “fearsome critters'' to be found in this popular family dark ride.

Welcome to the Fearsome Critters Sideshow!


A sideshow barker encourages guests to enter the doorway of what looks like a large circus tent decorated with posters and portraits of some of the “fearsome critters,” painted in the exaggerated dramatic style common to sideshows of the era.


These outrageously overly dramatic paintings are only intended to attract curious customers into the sideshow. Once inside, guests find that the ride queue is further decorated with posters and paintings of the “real” creatures they will be seeing as drawn by Margaret Ramsey Tryon along with a description of the history behind this now mostly-forgotten part of American folklore and culture as recorded by Henry H. Tryon. Bluegrass music plays overhead, establishing the setting for the ride experience awaiting them.


This is not a traditional sideshow, which was either a seedy stage show or a creepy walk-through attraction, but a dark ride where rather beaten-up Model-T jalopies, each carrying four visitors, take them through the backwoods home of the Fearsome Critters. Riders pass through an opening in what appears to be the back of the tent and find themselves standing in front of a rather run-down, weathered Pan-Am gas station, located on the edge of a dense forest. The station’s Pan-Am sign is barely functioning- only a few of the sign’s interior bulbs still light, and those are flickering as if they’ll soon burn out. A few dim bulbs glow inside the station’s office and service bay, across the road from the would-be riders. It’s night. The sounds of the crickets in the woods can be heard, and the sky is filled with twinkling stars. A full moon bathes the area with its soft light.


This is the loading station where the riders board their jalopies and soon will be heading deep into this forest for an expedition to rediscover a nearly-forgotten treasure of American folklore. The ride vehicles enter from the left, and some service attendants wearing Pan-Am uniforms (as worn out as the rest of the station) help riders into their jalopies, checking their seatbelts and warning them to stay in the car at all times- the Hidebehind has been especially hungry lately!

As the jalopies head off into the densely-forested home of the Fearsome Critters, the bluegrass music changes slightly, and the voice of a storyteller from somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains of the American South begins to introduce the riders to the world of the Fearsome Critters. He briefly and simply explains where these stories came from as the riders pass by a scene showing a group of lumberjacks in a forest clearing, sitting around a campfire at night, swapping stories. The crusty old-timers are tellin’ the young greenhorns about the fearsome critters that live in the woods, and from the wide-eyed looks of fear on the faces of the newbies, the scary stories are workin’. The jalopies move away from the campfire and head into the forest where the “mythical'' fearsome critters that were being created in the imagination of the lumberjacks suddenly become real! The background bluegrass music, which up to now has been strictly instrumental, becomes a song, “The Fearsome Critter Hoedown!”, and the storyteller now sings about the fearsome critters that the riders will encounter on their journey through the moonlit forest.


The Splintercat is seen ramming a tree, and all the branches are falling off. This reveals an Agropelter, a mean-lookin’ ape-like critter with long-muscular arms and a large tree limb in his hand that he is threatening to drop on the intruding visitors to his territory! A Hoop Snake rolls down a hillside towards the car, just missing it as the logging road the rider’s jalopy is following turns along the base of a hill. What critter do they come across next? A Sidehill Gouger, a creature with legs longer on one side than the other, forcing it to forever walk around and around the hillside. What was that? Did y’all see somethin’, over there? Is that a Squonk? Probably the homeliest animal in the world, the Squonk is constantly weeping because of its appearance, and can often be tracked by following the trail of tears it leaves behind it.

What’s that flying overhead? It looks like a bird with a turkey-like head on a long neck which is covered with green and silver scales! Its left wing is pink and its right wing is black- and it’s flying backward! It must be the Filli-Ma-Loo Bird, who only wants to see where it’s been, never where it’s going (it also builds its nest upside-down, and always lays seven eggs).

A lost lumberjack, wandering in the dark forest, is suddenly grabbed by a Hidebehind that- you guessed it- hid behind a tree and grabbed him for a snack, leaving behind the lumberjack’s axe which is soon eaten by an Axehandle Hound, shaped like an axe!


The road takes them past a perfectly-circular pond where a massive Whiffenpoof (sometimes called the Gilli-Galoo Fish) is waiting for a tasty meal to come along. Meanwhile, a battle is occurring on the opposite shore of the pond between a Wampus Cat and a Hodag.


As the jalopy moves past this scene, a shrill whistle is heard, at first in the distance but getting louder as a bizarre dog with stubby legs and cat-like ears walks out of the woods- backward, blowing steam out of its mouth to create the whistling sound. This is the famous Teakettler, which briefly joins in the melody with the storyteller’s song. As the jalopies approach a clearing in the forest with a low hill in the center, they see standing on top of the hill the most famous of all the Fearsome Critters, the Jackalope, a jackrabbit with the antlers of a deer proudly displayed on its head. It waves at the riders as if to say “good-bye” when suddenly -SWOOSH- a fearsome Snallygaster flies past the Jackalope, grabs it in its steely claws and soars away with it- probably for a snack.

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
As the song comes to its conclusion, the storyteller mentions even more Fearsome Critters that have gathered in the clearing to say their farewells to the visitors in their own unique, fearsome way- waving (the Cactus Cat), snarling while drumming along with the storyteller’s song on a hollow log (the Ball-tailed Cat), being cute (the Tree-Squeak; the Columbia River Sand Squink; the Come-at-a-Body), spinning (the Whirling Whimpus) or perhaps just being weird (the Hugag, a thirteen-foot tall moose-like creature with a hairless head and neck, ratty coat, long bushy tail, floppy corrugated ears, long upper lip and jointless legs that make it impossible to lay down, so it leans against trees to sleep).


As the jalopies leave the forest and return to the gas station (actually a duplicate of the loading station), they see, sitting on the roof of the station, the Snallygaster, with the Jackalope sitting on his knee! They were just playing, showing off for the human visitors to their forest home, and the Jackalope and Snallygaster wave “good-bye” as the Model Ts roll under the awning of the gas station to park and to let the humans disembark and head into the gas station (and the gift shop and Family Album counter).


The Fearsome Critters Sideshow is a masterpiece of animatronic and screen technology, and this attraction has reintroduced them into the American cultural consciousness. Along with numerous souvenirs based on them (stuffed animals, lawn ornaments, even Halloween costumes), an extremely popular children’s television program has premiered on both PBS and the AmeriToon Network.

These and other Fearsome Critters, inhabitants of the forests of the American wilderness, are now and forever remembered as an important part of American folk culture, rediscovered and now residing in the Fearsome Critters Side Show at Americana 1900.





James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster



Located at the intersection of Main Street and West State Street is another classic “spinner” ride of the 1920s, the Caterpillar (circ. 1925). At first glance, this looks like a fairly sedate ride, with a train going around a gently undulating track. However, once this ride begins to pick up speed, something quite unusual happens- a curved green canvas canopy painted to look like a caterpillar is raised over the train from the inside edge of the ride.


The riders are suddenly enveloped in near-total darkness, while to visitors watching the ride from the State Fair midway it looks like the ride has turned into a giant caterpillar, racing around and around the hills and dips of the track. Inside the pitch-black train, high-powered fans in the track occasionally blast air into the enclosed train to startle the already disoriented riders. The Caterpillar is a classic ride, certain to delight State Fair visitors.




James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster



South Machinery Shed (Whip and Dodgems)

“State Fair Brand” Corn Dog Stand

North Machinery Shed (Scrambler and Tilt-a-Whirl)

Looff Memorial Carousel

The machinery sheds at county and state fairs were used to showcase the latest tractors, wagons, plows and other labor-saving mechanical equipment in the hope of boosting sales to the local farmers. Here at State Fair the two machinery sheds, North and South, are located between East and West State Streets, and are used to house several traditional flat rides, sheltering riders from the sun, heat and other inclement weather. The South Machinery Shed houses the queue and loading station for The Whip (which has the majority of its ride footprint outside of the shed), and the Dodgems. The North Machinery Shed contains the Scrambler in the south half and the Tilt-a-Whirl in the north half of the shed. These normally open-sided sheds are kept comfortable in the summer by means of large ceiling fans and louvers in the roof to allow heat to escape, and have huge garage-type doors that can be lowered to enclose them and keep rain and cold out of the buildings when needed.




First introduced in 1914 (most likely at Luna Park in Coney Island, New York), The Whip has its entrance queue in the South Machinery Shed with the main body of the ride extending out from the south end of the shed, fronting on Main Street opposite the Thunderbolt and Lightning Building. This ride, sometimes called the “Whipper,” is still to be found in several historic parks in America, and smaller versions designed just for children are even more common around the country. The Whip uses a series of turntables and cables to move cars capable of carrying two to three riders along the straight sides of a rectangular platform, then “whipping” them around the turntables at each end. The constant variation of speed from the slow, sedate straight-aways to the “whip” around the turns makes this a fun, slightly thrilling experience for families to discover together.



The first mention of a Dodgem/bumper car-type ride is found in a 1921 patent (two years prior to the patent design below), and from that date they became one of the most popular amusement park rides in the world. The design of the cars has changed over the years and has made modern Dodgem cars much safer than the original designs.



The Dodgems at Americana 1900 combine the unique retro shape of mid-century dodgem cars with modern safety features.


The sounds of the laughing riders, the sights of the flashing lights in the ceilings and the slight smell of ozone from the sparks being generated where the cars’ poles touch the electric grid overhead make a ride on the Dodgems a sensory-filled trip back in time.

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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster



Sometimes called the “Twist” or even the “Grasscutter,” the Scrambler is arguably the most anachronistic “historic” ride in State Fair. It has become such a fixture at amusement parks and fairs across the country that it is hard to believe that it was not introduced until 1955. However, it was created by the Eli Bridge Company, whose founder, W.E. Sullivan, was inspired by a ride on the 1893 Ferris Wheel at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and began to create amusement park rides (See! You can justify anything if you do your research and dig deep enough!). This extremely popular family ride has three groups of four carriages, each capable of holding two or three passengers, suspended from a central axis.


Each group of carriages spins counterclockwise while the framework they are suspended from spins clockwise, causing centrifugal force to press delighted riders towards the outside of the seat- and up against the person sitting on the outside. It might be out of the Americana 1900 era, but the popularity of the Scrambler at State Fair proves it to be a worthy and valuable addition to this collection of rides.





Herbert Sellner invented and built the first Tilt-a-Whirl in the basement and backyard of his home in Faribault, Minnesota in 1926, and it was introduced at the Minnesota State Fair a year later. Before founding his own company and factory to construct them, he had built fourteen more in his home. Eventually, the Sellner Manufacturing Company had constructed over a thousand Tilt-a-Whirls, some of which are still operating today, such as this example in State Fair.


Constructed in 1954, the Americana Tilt-a-Whirl has seven free-spinning cars, each capable of carrying three to four riders around a rotating platform that rises and falls throughout the ride cycle. Much of this ride’s structure is constructed of steel and aluminum, but wherever possible wooden materials have been used to cover visible surfaces, so as to replicate as much as possible the appearance of the original all-wood Tilt-a-Whirls.



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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Looff Memorial Carousel


(Recommended atmospheric music for the Looff Memorial Carousel)

The final ride to be discussed in State Fair is probably the most iconic ride at any fair, be it a small town street fair, county fair or even State Fair- The Carousel. The Looff Memorial Carousel, located in an elegant round gazebo-type wooden structure where East and West State Streets converge at the State Fair Road entrance to the Township, is a tribute to Charles Looff (1852-1918), the most important carousel manufacturer of the late 1800s and a master of the Coney-Island-style of carousel carving. The hand-carved wooden horses are slender, stylized, with elaborate trappings and spirited expressions. Looff horses originally had real horse-hair tails (not reproduced here but replaced with more durable replica material).



There are five horses per row, with the outer horses being stationary and the four inner horses listed as “jumpers.” Two elaborately-carved non-moving “chariots'' complete the ride options on this historic amusement park masterpiece. The framework and mechanism that operates this ride are recreations based on original designs from the Looff Carousel Company, and many of the horses and chariots have been acquired from collectors throughout the nation. Forty-eight of the horses and one of the two chariots are original Looff creations, with the others being hand-crafted reproductions of originals still in use on other carousels or in private collections.

*Americana 1900 has located several more original Looff horses still in private collections and is in negotiations to acquire them and add them to this historic carousel.


No carousel would be complete without carousel organ music, and the Looff Carousel uses a magnificent 1925 Wurlitzer carousel organ that has been completely restored, and which now plays dozens of melodies appropriate to a carousel of this age and importance.


Music was originally used on carousels both to add to the experience of the ride and to hide the noise of the machinery running the carousel. The military marches and waltz tunes heard while riding the Looff Memorial Carousel provide the perfect background sounds for this important piece of American amusement park history.

“Grab the Brass Ring” is a famous saying that entered the English language from the world of carousels and merry-go-rounds. A mechanical dispenser would extend from just outside of the ride to just within the reach of riders on the outside of the ride. As the carousel carried riders past the ring dispenser, riders would attempt to snatch a ring. Most of the rings were iron, but occasionally there would be a brass ring, and the rider who was successful at snatching it could redeem with the ride operator for a prize, usually a free ride on the carousel. Americana 1900 is considering adding an original ring dispenser acquired from a collector of Looff Carousel memorabilia, depending on approval from several Americana legal and safety departments.


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D Hulk

Well-Known Member
No amusement park is complete without a carousel! Your great historic care, seen with the vintage Wurlitzer and the reclaimed horses, would make your Looff Memorial Carousel one of the best out there.

Would you be including a brass ring? My two favorite operating carousels, at Knoebels and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, both feature such rings, turning these rides from afterthoughts into must-dos. I know it’s a potential injury lawsuit, so I understand it’s exclusion. Even so…

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I hadn't thought about the brass would depend on what the Legal Department along with the Insurance Department of The Americana Land Company decided, along with needing a historic precedent of Looff Carousels having the brass ring feature. I didn't research that, so I don't have an answer to your question. I'll have to do the research as I have time. Thanks for the question/suggestion, and special thanks for your kind words! :)

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