Rode Ferris Wheel

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, September 21, 1911: Went to the Fair today with Miss Carrie of course. We took a ride on the Ferris Wheel (a thing I was never on before) and a ride on the Curling Wave. Saw a good many people I knew and more that I didn’t know. I got rather tired walking around all afternoon and sot such a thumping headache. Got home about six o’clock and then had to do all the milking as Ruthie hadn’t yet made her arrival.

The Ferris Wheel at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 (Photo Source: Wikipedia)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma and her friend Carrie Stout went to the Milton Fair. According to yesterday’s entry McEwensville High School gave the students the day off to attend the fair.

The rides sound exciting. I checked Wikipedia and discovered that the first Ferris Wheel was at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. It was invented by a bridge builder named George Ferris, and manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in Pittsburgh.

I was somewhat surprised that a fair in central Pennsylvania would have a Ferris Wheel only 18 years after very first Ferris Wheel was created. I imagined that new technology once diffused more slowly than it does today. But I guess that 18 years was a long time—both then and now.

I asked my father about the Milton Fair. He cannot remember there ever being a fair at Milton, but says that when he was young, people called the area on both sides Route 405 near the Arrowhead Restaurant “the fairgrounds”.

9 Responses

  1. Your father is correct about the location of the fair. I have a copy of a photo of a great-uncle (or great-great uncle) taken at the fair in the early 1900’s, I believe it was. They used to have horse races there as well as the standard fair attractions. It was a very big deal in its day.

  2. It’s hard for me to picture what the fair must have been like. It’s really cool that you have a photo of it. If you happen to have an electronic version of the photo–and would be willing for me to post it–let me know. I think that people would find it really interesting.

    • The photo is just of the man holding a sign with the words “Milton Fair” and the date – doesn’t show anything of the fairgrounds. Apparently a local fair was a way for people to have their photos taken. In another branch of my family I have a photo of a Mother and Father, two of their daughters (one being my great-grandmother) and a grandchild – the background is a striped tent, which makes me think it was taken at a fair.

      • It’s amazing how much photography has changed in the last 100 years. In those days it probably was a big deal to get a photo taken at the fair; today it’s so easy to take digital photos by the hundreds.

  3. I saw this written about the Milton Fair in the book, Chronicles and History of Milton written by George S. Venios. Copyright 2002

    “The Milton Fair was first held in 1885. An annual event held each fall, the fair grew to become one of the largest annual events in the state. The organization that operated it was the Milton Driving Park and Fair Association. Located on the north end of Milton on the current site of Everritt’s Fairground Golf Range, it was mostly an agricultural type event, similar to the Bloomsburg Fair.

    The fairgrounds were substantial with a horseracing track and grandstands. There was even a specially designated railroad siding for passenger excursions and “circus trains”. Of course there were rides including the Ferris Wheels and the slideshow attractions.There were also paid rides in biplanes that were commonly referred to as “barnstormers”.

    The Milton Fair ended in 1923 when the fairground buildings were destroyed by fire and never rebuilt do to lack of interest and the economic hard times of the Great Depression. Arson was suspected.”

    • Thanks for the wonderful additional information. The description that you found in the book really makes the fair come alive. It’s cool how it was one of the largest fairs in the state. It sounds like so much fun–sometimes I wish that I could be transported back in time. .

  4. I wrote the title wrong. It is Chronicles and Legends of Milton. Sorry for the error.

  5. [...] School was closed on both Thursday and Friday so students could attend the Milton Fair. She’d gone to the fair on Thursday—so she was at home on this Friday [...]

  6. [...] in 1911, Grandma used a telephone for the first time and also rode a ferris wheel for the first time; Like this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

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