The story behind the Kit Carson County Carousel

9NEWS at 6 a.m. 11/14/16.

BURLINGTON - On the far eastern edge of Colorado, where silos and windmills dominate the skyline, there's a story people have passed around for a while.

"People come from miles just to see that thing!" gift shop worker George Robben said.

A plain white gazebo on the Kit Carson County Fairgrounds is home to the wild tale.

Robbie Fearon is the supervising volunteer who keeps the wheels spinning on the Philadelphia Tobaggan Company Carousel Number 6.

"I grew up riding it," she said, "My mom grew up riding it."

The carousel was originally built in 1905.

"It was actually commissioned by Mary Elitch Long," Fearon said.

That should sound familiar. Mary installed the carousel at Elitch Gardens as one of the park's first big attractions.

But three wise guys, the Kit Carson County Commissioners, bought the carousel about 20 years later for roughly $1,200

Apparently, they overpaid.

"And the commissioners who bought it were promptly fired. None of them ever served in office again," Fearon said.

The depression soon followed.

The carousel started to blend in with the silos.

"They hooked up an auger at the top of the building, augered it in right on top of the animals, the paintings, the motor," Fearon said.

The county started the ride up again in the 1930s, but it fell into disuse by the '70s.

Volunteers refurbished the animals; the 200-some-piece Wurlitzer organ needed a lot of work, because the rats and mice destroyed the bellows and the tubing in it.

A keen eye can spot the history they've preserved, even the markings of a heist.
"They broke in literally one dark and stormy night. Our alarm system had been knocked out. And they wanted to steal the lion, who's our lead animal," Fearon said.

They couldn't lift it-- they stole four others.

After an international hunt, cops found the thieves in Kansas.

"So we put them on a flat bed, and had a parade down main, and they've been home ever since,” Fearson said.

Even after all that work, the magic may not last forever.

"We've had people over 100 ride it, and it just-- it takes them somewhere else, either to fantasy land or their childhood," Fearon said.

But until it stops, it's worth stopping in if you're around.

The carousel typically only runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, but they are going to be running for a single day coming up.

The association that runs it is hosting Christmas at the Carousel on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment