Merry-Go-Round From Gillian's Lands in Buffalo, Wyoming

If you have photos or videos of the carousel in Ocean City between 1929 and 1987, the Cowboy Carousel Center would like copies for a promotional video.

The carousel that generations of Ocean City visitors rode in their quest to grab the golden ring and win a free ride is now the centerpiece of a proposed new arts and education center in Buffalo, Wyo.

The carousel (or merry-go-round, as most in these parts know it) was part of Gillian's Fun Deck from 1929 to 1987, when the ride was auctioned to make way for the water park that opened in 1988. 

"Just thinking about this brings back great memories of working on that ride," said Mayor Jay Gillian, whose grandfather founded Gillian's Fun Deck. "My brothers and I would put it up and take it down every year. They really were the best times of my life." 

The Cowboy Carousel Center is working on a promotional video about the history of the carousel and is seeking images of it while it was still in Ocean City.


If you have photographs or videos of the carousel, email cowboycarousel@gmail.com.

Arnette Tiller of the Cowboy Carousel Center in the Bighorn Mountains region of eastern Wyoming said the center is in the process of restoring and moving the carousel to a new home, where it will be the centerpiece of a community event center.

Tiller said the center will post the video on YouTube, Kickstarter and other media. The center is also seeking small (or large) donations that can be made through PayPal at cowboycarouselcenter.org. More information on the project is also available at the website.

Tiller said the carousel is largely the same as the original from Ocean City — with the exception of the horses, which have been replaced to reflect the history of the region, including the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The center's website offers the following history of the carousel:

The Cowboy Carousel, manufactured at North Tonawanda, New York in 1925, ran for 63 years on Gillian’s Fun Deck in Ocean City, New Jersey. The horses that are now on the carousel are fiberglass reproductions of original wood carvings by local renowned Buffalo artist and wood carver, Bill Jennings.

This carousel is important, therefore, historically as a 1925 Spillman Carousel and artistically, as a carousel restored with horses and figures carved by a noted local artist. As such, it would be an important cornerstone to Buffalo’s historic district and an important cultural part of Buffalo’s history that would be preserved.  Add to this that carousel’s are much beloved and a major tourist attraction.

The lead horse on the carousel is painted to represent Steamboat, the famous Wyoming bucking horse. Steamboat bucked at Cheyenne Frontier Days from 1903 to 1914 and was ridden twice in his career. The Indian pony is Little Soldier, a pony ridden by a Crow scout at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The Indian symbols painted on the pony represent various Indian signs to assist the horse in battle. The Seventh Cavalry horse, complete with authentically carved McClelland saddle and U.S. Cavalry issue bit, is painted to represent Comanche. Comanche was ridden by Captain Miles Keogh at the Battle of the Little Big Horn who was the sole survivor of General Custer’s immediate command.

The Spillman Carousel has been restored as closely as possible to its original colors. A picture of this machine in its original condition hangs in the Smithsonian Institute. The Cowboy Carousel is now an important part of Buffalo’s history. Because of Emerson Scott’s vision, this historic carousel came to Buffalo.  And because of Emerson’s wonderful vision, he had a great local artist create the first and still only truly Western Cowboy Indian Carousel based on historic details.

This is a treasure worth preserving and making an active part of our community.  Help us save it, make a great new home for it, and in doing so become an important part of Buffalo’s history.

Sko Hayes October 06, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Wow, what memories that carousel brings back. Spent many happy hours at Gillian's Fun Deck! And got one or two gold rings to boot! Good to know that it's being preserved.
walt hays October 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Around 1955, my brother, myself, and a girl up on 2nd street modeled on that carousel for The Saturday Evening Post- it ended up on the cover of one of the issues- long lost, however, Might be able to find on line.
ann laverty October 06, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Why did gillians get rid of it?
Ellen October 06, 2012 at 11:42 PM
To make room for the water park. Somehow a waterpark, over the years, will not hold the same nostalgia as a Merry Go Round. The more things change the worse they get it seems...
Ken Cooper October 06, 2012 at 11:50 PM
The Ocean City Historical Museum has one of the original horses from the carousel on display in the front window.
Richard Concepcion October 07, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I've got photos of that carousel to share, which I took in the late 1970's. By that time it had shed most of its decorations.
Barbara Colombo October 08, 2012 at 11:19 AM
I don't believe that horse is from that carousel. Those horses were wooden. This horse is a Spillman just like them. This horse if from that carousel would not have been restored in fiberglass in 1989. It would ruin the horse. We have a horse from that carousel. We have researched and restored carousel figures for over 30 years.
Arnette Tiller October 10, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Richard - and anyone else who has photos - please send hard copies to Chris Kenworthy at Cubist Media Group, 234 Market Street 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106 or email cowboycarousel@gmail.com. Thanks so much. Come to Buffalo Wyoming and check it out. Arnette Tiller
Richard Concepcion October 13, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Pictures emailed! :)
Arnette Tiller October 22, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Thanks for the tip. I found the Post. It is the August 9, 1958 issue. There are some on Ebay if you want to check it out. Also check out the video with old Gillian's pics on YouTube as cowboy carousel. Thanks again.
Arnette Tiller October 23, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Thanks for the photos. You can check them out on the video on YouTube as cowboy carousel. We will also be on Kickstarter.com very soon. Thanks to everyone. Arnette Tiller
hongfeng January 09, 2013 at 03:45 AM
http://www.coachoutletonlinebfd.com/ Coach Outlet Online http://www.guccibeltstb.com/ Gucci Belt http://www.coachoutletonlineste.com/ Coach Oustlet Store Online http://www.cocoachoutletonline.org/ Coach Outlet Online http://www.coachoutletonlinetsy.net/ Coach Online Outlet
Arnette Tiller January 10, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Hi Ocean City. I hope you are getting things back to normal. We have the carousel project on kickstarter.com. Check it out. Type in cowboy carousel and view the project. The dead line is the 27th and we need $ fast. 2000 people at $10 or more. Please pass this along on face book and emails. Thank you, God bless and Happy New year. Arnette Tiller


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »