Carousel at Jantzen Beach

From 1928 into the 1960s, the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park was frequented by up to 725,000 people annually. The Jantzen Beach Amusement Park featured the huge Big Dipper Roller Coaster, the C.W. Parker Carousel, a Ferris Wheel, a small railway, thrill rides, midget auto racing and a swimming pool.

The Oregonian has a pictorial history of the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park.

The Jantzen Beach Amusement Park opened on May 26, 1928, promoted as the largest amusement park in the nation. The park sprawled over 123 acres at Hayden Island, notes PdxHistory.

By 1970 attendance had dipped at the amusement park and was closed in 1970. The park was razed in 1970 to make room for the Jantzen Beach Shopping Center.

The Jantzen Beach Carousel has been a fixture of Hayden Island since the opening of Jantzen Beach Amusement Park in 1928. It was built in 1921 by the C.W. Parker Amusement Company, the “American Amusement King”.

C. W. Parker built five large extravagant “park” machines. Only one of those five is still left, the Jantzen Beach Carousel. I’ve been told by security personnel that in 2014 the Jantzen Beach carousel was transported back “home” to the C. W. Parker Carousel Museum.

The 72-horse Merry-Go-Round first operated at the Venice Beach, California Pier from 1921 until 1927. It survived a major fire and was put into storage until 1928 when it was then shipped to Jantzen Beach Amusement Park, where it operated for 42 years as one of the park’s main attractions — along with the Big Dipper Roller Coaster.

The Jantzen Beach Mall opened in 1972 and the carousel operated for 22 years inside the shopping center.

In 1995, the Merry-Go-Round underwent a thorough $500,000 restoration and was relocated to become the center piece of the new “Jantzen Beach SuperCenter” which added new retailers including Circuit City and Barnes & Noble.

In 2007 the owners requested that the Jantzen Beach Carousel be de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places. The owners then attempted to have it moved to Portland’s Children’s Museum. However, the funding to move the carousel failed to materialize.

On April 22, 2012, the Carousel was closed to the public in anticipation of yet another remodel. This time a $50-$60 million project by the new owners, EDENS, a South Carolina-based developer and real estate holding company.

Jantzen Beach Center’s newest remodel altered the mall from an inward facing walking mall to a 100,000-square-foot, U-shaped design where shoppers will enter stores from the outside. The disadvantage of this design is that the Carousel would likely need a dedicated building.

While EDENS publicly committed to retaining the Carousel on-site at Jantzen Beach Center, the firm’s site plans never showed a dedicated location for the Carousel.

If the carousel remains at Jantzen Beach, it can be re-listed on the National Register.

Economics are a consideration. Authentic, hand carved horses, of the quality that CW Parker created, can cost between $5,000 – $20,000. The Jantzen Beach Carousel is widely known for its many elaborately carved and one-of-a-kind horses, says Carousel News. It may be more profitable to part out carousels, especially the ones CW Parker made, then make them available to the public as an attraction.

Edens may have hard time turning down $3-$4 million for their fully restored and operational 72-horse Parker carousel. Ready to roll. I was told by maintenance people at Jantzen Beach, that the antique carousel has now been shipped back to the CW Parker Museum in Kansas.

Some of the hand carved horses were made by inmates of the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, near the Carousel shop of Charles Wallace Parker. By 1925 the C.W. Parker factory began phasing out the wooden carved horses, and began creating the aluminum cast figures.

The Portland Carousel Museum and the International Museum of Carousel Art in Hood River, has been the dream and passion of Oregon residents Duane and Carol Perron. Starting with the restoration and operation of a 1914 carousel in Portland, Oregon in 1978, they have restored and placed into operation seven antique carousels at various locations around America.

The Albany Historic Carousel & Museum also is a hub of people and expertise. Portland Architecture, Friends of Portland’s Wooden Carousels and Save the Jantzen Beach Carousel have more info.

Today, if you want to ride an antique carousel, Salem’s Carousel, lovingly restored by a large group of volunteers, may be your best bet.


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