Saturday, June 09, 2018

Carnival, August 1970

Today's post consists of three fun images from an unknown fair or carnival, circa 1970. I wish I had more information!

This first one showed a ride that I was not familiar with. Online research didn't help. So I asked Ken Martinez if he knew, and Ken came through like a champ! Here's what he said:

That is the very rare Herschell Looper carnival ride.  It's a variation of the Chance Rok-N-Roll.  The Herschell Looper is a two-seater (one rider on each side) and the Rok-N-Roll is a four-seater (two riders on each side).

This ride was originally developed by the Allen Herschell Company but Chance inherited it from them when the Herschell Company merged with Chance Rides and modified it into the Rok-N-Roll (four-seater configuration).

Ken even sent a link to this YouTube video showing was is purported to be the only surviving example of a Herschell Looper, at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Pennsylvania. Which is handy, because I was not clear on how this ride operated. THANKS, KEN!

The next two photos show the familiar Rock-O-Plane ride, designed by Lee Eyerly in 1948 and manufactured by the Eyerly Aircraft Company. Wikipedia sez: Its shape is similar to that of a Ferris Wheel, but with seats that are enclosed and rock and roll as the ride turns. If the rocking builds sufficient momentum the seats will flip upside-down and end-over-end. There is usually a wheel inside that participants can use to lock the seat and prevent it from rocking. This can be used to make the ride less scary by ensuring that the seats don't rock too much; or to make it more intense by locking the seats at crucial points in the ride's revolution, causing the seats to flip upside down and spin erratically.

Not bad for a ride celebrating its 70th year! Classic carnival rides are still a ton of fun, even if they rattle teeth or bruise knees.

Thanks again to Ken Martinez for his help.


Nanook said...


Who says 'simple' isn't better-? These images/rides are wonderful. Such simple elegance. Of particular note is the "rim drive" providing the rotational force to the Herschell Looper. Thanks, Ken, for providing the additional info and that great footage of the Looper. What a treasure.

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

I was always afraid of these kinds of things when I would visit carnivals as a kid. Go upside-down? No way - that's suicide! It was permanent installations of carnival rides at Six Flags and Busch Gardens parks that got me out of that mindset. Looking forward to some classic carnival rides later today on my first Six Flags trip of the year.

Thanks again, Major & Ken!

Patrick Devlin said...

I always liked the Ferris-wheel-type with the axis of rotation in line with the direction of motion. Kind of like flying a stunt plane.

K. Martinez said...

Thanks guys, but I just filled in a blank that Major couldn't find info for. I do love me some traditional old style flat rides.

The Lee Eyerly "Rock-O-Plane" like Herbert Sellner's "Tilt-A-Whirl" is a true classic of the midway. I'm glad Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk still has both.

Thanks for another cool post, Major.

Chuck, when I was a child I used to hang out with the carnies all day long when they came to town to put up the rides at the local annual carnival. It's amazing how quickly they assembled and disassembled those rides.

Patrick Devlin, another great Ferris Wheel type ride is the Chance "Sky Diver". It definitely echos the movements of a stunt plane.

Melissa said...

Knoebels is such a great, old-fashioned park! I have a friend who makes the circuit of the biggest PA parks - Hershey, Knoebels, Idlewild, Kennywood - every other summer or so, but it seems I can never justify the $$ to go, especially if I'm saving for a Disney trip! The one I've *never* been to is Idlewild, and they have the Mister Rogers Neighborhood Trolley ride, which I really want to see because eventually somebody is going to want to shut it down in favor of another coaster.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, when you think about it, a clothes dryer is one of the best amusement park rides ever. Just be sure to set it for “low heat”.

Chuck, I have not been on either of those rides, but our local carnival has something called The Zipper, and that swings around in a manner that I think is very similar to the Rock-O-Plane. It really shakes you up! Let’s get a full report on your trip to Six Flags. ;-)

Patrick Devlin, yes, it was quite different from what I had imagined, so the video was very helpful.

K. Martinez, I wonder why the Herschell Looper is so rare today. Presumably a bunch were built back in the day. How did we come to only have one that actually works? I’m not asking you to do research, those are rhetorical questions!

Melissa, wow, your friend knows how to live. What a fun way to spend a summer. I watched a video of the Mister Rogers ride at Idlewild, you definitely need to experience that. It’s one of those things that are going to vanish without warning.

Patrick Devlin said...

Thanks K. Martinez, I did an image search and The Sky Diver is exactly what I was thinking of. Thank you.

TokyoMagic! said...

I have been on the second ride many times at a local church carnival, but not the Herschell Looper. I remember Bill Bixby and his TV son, Brandon Cruz, riding on one of these during the opening credits of "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." I also remember seeing the ride at the L.A. County Fair, but I missed out on the chance to ride it. :-(

Chuck said...

Major, I rode a mobile Zipper at the Wayne County (Ohio) Fair when I was in college. I had never had the courage to ride one when I was younger, and I think I wanted to show off to my then-girlfriend and her sister. It was a lot of fun, but I haven't had an opportunity to ride one since.

Not much to report from Six Flags, I'm afraid. It rained and lightninged more on than off the first three hours we were there, and it took a while for the outdoor rides to dry off and get operating. The only ride I ended up taking was the Screaming Eagle roller coaster (although I did ride it twice in a row, with about a five-minute wait each time).

I was a bit concerned to see their Scrambler (which they call "Shazam!") minus the seats. I'm hoping the "ride down for refurbishment" sign is sincere and not another 20,000 Leagues-style misdirection. The frame did look freshly painted, so I'm fairly confident that it will be running next time I go.

I did manage to pick up a cool "Six Flags Over Mid-America" t-shirt with the original 1971 logo on it as well as a lanyard with the main Justice League character logos on it. That will be fun to wear at work with my security badge.

Melissa said...


Anonymous said...

Major and Ken, thanks for the magisterial exposition on amusement park equipment. I do enjoy these.

Like many, the going upside-down thing wasn't popular in my family. In fact, we've been known to wait longer to ride the Mickey's Fun Wheel cages that don't slide and sway.