No doubt the lines will be long to ride the Ferris wheel at the Washington Town and Country Fair. The crowds will enjoy the experience and relish the views, but it’s doubtful many will know the history of this marvelous invention that made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Fair.
Learn more by reading “Mr. Ferris and His Wheel,” a book as appealing as cotton candy, with richly hued illustrations by Gilbert Ford.
The World’s Fair was where George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. showcased his creation—a wonder that took the mechanical engineer mere months to build, from start to finish. The biggest hitch Ferris had was obtaining the money to make his dream come true. “Lenders laughed him off the street.”
Ferris didn’t toss in the ticket; he just financed the project with his own money, and help from investors.
Erecting the steel wheel wasn’t a picnic either. Once it was finished, and set for its first turn on June 21, 1893, no one, not even Ferris, had any idea if it would work. Hurly-burly it was a success! In the 19 weeks of the fair, 1.5 million passengers took a turn. There was no laughing at Ferris now.
Since then, Ferris wheels have become commonplace at fairs and in amusement parks. Today the world’s tallest Ferris wheel is the Singapore Flyer, 541 feet tall. That’s a far piece to travel for a thrill—get yours at our local fair.
And be sure and come by the Family Fun Center at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 7 when The Missourian’s reading event kicks off, with a skit, free copies of books and a drawing for “Mr. Ferris and His Wheel,” which pubs next month.
That’s more than fair don’t you think? See you there!