New Life For Rollag Carousel

M Kerkvliet

WMSTR Past President
WMSTR Lifetime Member
The story below is from WDAY TV in Fargo. It was done by award winning reporter Kevin Wallevand on November 13, 2014. I am posting a link to the actual story. Not sure how long it will work. There is video!

Congratulations Larry Longtine (great story!) and thank you Kevin!


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Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - They once traveled from town to town here in the Dakotas and Minnesota: Traveling circus and carnivals- many of them showcasing their carousels.

Few of those original merry-go-rounds are still around.
But thanks to some volunteer wood carvers, the steam-powered carousel in Rollag is still making life simpler for the thousands who ride it every Labor Day Weekend, but the work on the horses is year-round.
In his North Moorhead wood shop, Larry Longtine is working his mallet magic.
Larry Longtine- Moorhead Wood Carver: “You have to like it or you could not stay with it.”
Slowly, meticulously, chipping away the paint…
Longtine: “Sometimes you can work for hours and not see what you've done.”
…Some of them getting new basswood or popple legs and tails.
Longtine: “If it is going to stay on the merry-go-round for another 100 years, they have to have good legs because that is a major part of the machine.”
…healing and sealing the cracks and weary wooden bones of a Steamer Hill Carousel Horse.
Longtine: “CW Parker out of Leavenworth Kans: He had a style and I am trying to stay with it.”
And this is why he does it. Every fall, thousands line up for a chance to ride the steam powered merry-go-round in Rollag. Young and old hop on the century-old horses that are getting a makeover after a century of carrying the country's carousel lovers.
Longtine: “I could make a new horse faster than repairing an old one, but it would not be the same thing.”
Even at Rollag, Larry Longtine is working on repairing what has fallen apart…
Longtine: “If we wanted a new horse we would make a new horse. We want it to look like it has been there awhile.”
…The heads, the tails, the legs.
Longtine: “This leg would have been made in 1914; 100 years old.”
And what an apparatus this is? It takes a village to run this merry-go-round; one guy feeding wood into a boiler that creates the steam that runs the carousel.
Organ builder Lance Johnson patiently punches holes into paper; a system of air pressure and vacuum creates this.
Larry has been repairing the century old horses here in Rollag for the last 22 years. The retired Fargo police officer has the patience of, well, a wood carver.
Longtine: “Sometimes, you get to the point when there is nothing left to fix.”
And the reward: That's simple. Larry says a few days at Rollag watching the young and old ride this carousel...
Longtine: “They have fallen into a good old memory time.”
Longtine: “Face brightens up; it is like they have hit a different world… A memory from past time.”
These may be tired, worn horses, but they are getting new legs, and as the music plays on here at Steamer Hill, the 1914 CW Parker Merry Go Round Carousel just seems to shine like it did on our prairies a century ago.
A total of 22 horses are getting some TLC during the makeover.


Mega Poster
WMSTR Lifetime Member
This is one of the great assets that WMSTR has preserved with help from Larry and many more volunteer's like him that maintaine the steam, electrical and mechanical systems that are part of the carousel. We can't leave out the volunteer's that help all of our visitors from the very young to the seniors that enjoy this display and ride it each year. A very impresive piece of midwest history, and provide lasting memories for the young and old that visit WMSTR each year.

s.d. jon

Mega Poster
WMSTR Lifetime Member
Saw this on the news this morning, I do not personally know Larry, but have seen him working his magic with the carving. This is one of those lost arts that are sadly disappearing. Good job Larry!!!