My grandmother (“Gram”) is one of my favorite people on earth. She was born at the beginning of the Great Depression and survived the Dust Bowl. Her family moved from western Kansas to Burlington, Colorado when she was child, and she is a proud graduate of Burlington High School.
As a youth, Gram frequently brought me back to the Burlington farm (from Denver) to expose me to my agricultural roots and hang out with family. Most of my mom’s side of the family still resides in and around Burlington. Stratton, Flagler, Wray, and Kit Carson are places I became familiar with at a very young age.
But my favorite memory of Burlington from when I was a kid was riding on the Kit Carson County carousel. The intricately carved animals made an immediate impression on me. Even as a five or six-year-old child, I knew this was a significant piece of history, a piece of America that was nearly impossible to find anywhere else.
Gram, my sister, and my brother-in-law took a trip out to Burlington earlier this month. They traveled out to pick up a half beef from my cousins. We buy our beef directly from the ranch – it’s just better to meet your meat, know how it’s raised, and know it wasn’t injected with hormones and antibiotics. On their trip they stopped off at the Kit Carson County carousel and carousel museum.
Kit Carson County Carousel | Kit Carson County Fairgrounds, Burlington, CO 80807
The fully restored Kit Carson County carousel features hand-carved and painted wood animals crafted by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1905. The whimsical creatures dance to the tunes of the Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ during the summer season. This national historic landmark, located at the fairgrounds, is truly one of America’s jewels. For just 25 cents you can ride the historic Kit Carson County carousel!
The carousel (aka “PTC #6”) was constructed in 1905 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Elitch Gardens in Denver. The Kit Carson County Commissioners purchased the carousel in 1928 for an extravagant $1,200, a move that ultimately lost them their jobs.
The task of restoring the carousel to its original condition began in Colorado’s Centennial (1976) and was finally completed in 2001. The Carousel showcases 46 handcrafted animals; all have been restored to their original paint. The animals have intricate carvings, detailed coats, real antlers on the deer and real horsetails on many of the horses. Hand-painted decorations can be found on each of the carousel figures and saddle trappings are reminiscent of those used on cavalry mounts. There are four chariots to accommodate riders who would rather not climb onto an animal. The back of each chariot has an original painted landscape and the 45 original oil paintings have also been restored.
The carousel is housed in the original 1928 building. A 12-sided cupola sits atop the building and when all 12 doors are open, the building is completely open. The carousel and carousel museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The carousel museum admission is $1 and the price for a carousel ride is 25 cents. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, Old Town provides tours and rides of the carousel for groups who schedule tours of the museum and carousel in advance.
For more information about the historic carousel, please visit the Kit Carson Carousel Association’s web site.