Sitting along the riverbank in Leavenworth, Kansas, is a small museum that will let you peep backwards at childhoods spent at county fairs and carnivals. Step inside, and you’ll find a charming display of old carousels waiting to be ridden.
The museum is named after Charles Wallace (C.W.) Parker, who built some of the very first “Carry-Us-Alls” in North America, was brilliant at his craft, and quite a marketer too. Once he got the hang of putting together beautiful and whimsical mechanical merry-go-rounds, he figured out how to manufacture them on a much larger scale.
Hiring teams of master carvers to create and paint his animals, Parker put together a fantastic combination of visual and audio art, then put his creations on a motorized wheel that still delights children and adults alike to this day.
Enter the museum that’s named after him, and you’ll spot various operational carousels—you can even take a ride on one that’s over 100 years old! There’s one from 1913, one built by Parker’s son, and even a carousel built sometime between the 1850s and 1860s. You’ll also be able to view Parker’s cylinder piano, a hand-cranked musical instrument that can play 10 different tunes.