21Country: Old Robison Park & The Dentzel Carousel

21Alive News at 5
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 12:07 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - In the spring of ‘96..1896, that is, on Fort Wayne’s northeast side, the city’s greatest amusement park ever opened for business: Robison Park.

Part of an amusement park craze sweeping the country, Robison Park boasted a water slide, Ferris wheel, boat rides, picnics, intimate moments, and a wonderful carousel. The park went bankrupt and disappeared in 1919, but not all traces of this once-magic kingdom are gone.

On the banks of the Eel River in Logansport, Indiana’s Riverside Park, the Dentzel Carousel is thrilling kids and grownups, just as it did more than a century ago when it was the main attraction at Robison Park. The carousel was moved here in 1919 when Robison closed, and it is a stunning work of art. It was created by Gustav Dentzel, a German immigrant and master sculptor who built carousels in his Philadelphia workshop. He constructed just five carousels in his lifetime.

Ernie Gasho says the Riverside Park carousel is now only one of two left in the world.

The carousel was restored twenty years ago, the animals stripped of their paint, cracks, and dry rot repaired, and today whisks those kids of all ages along a fantasy journey astride resplendent horses, giraffes, goats, lions, and tigers, and offers kids a chance to snatch a coveted prize.

Folks in Logansport say the carousel saved Riverside Park from obscurity, attracting fans from miles around who come to admire the painted ponies and jungle animals and enjoy a thrill thousands of others have enjoyed over the past hundred-plus years. It’s a glorious and timeless tradition with roots firmly planted in 21Country.

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