Children’s Boat Swing
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About the Children’s Boat Swing
Swings have been used as a form of entertainment since time immemorial, and variations of the swing ride have been in use at fairs in Europe since at least the 17th century. During the late 1800’s and early 1900s, there were several types of manually driven swings at fairs in Europe and North America. The ‘Park Swings’ and ‘Set of Boats’ were akin to the Boat Swing, and, like our Swing, had a friction brake under each boat to stop it at the end of a ride. Some boat swing rides were quite large, seating 15 or more, and would have been propelled by two attendants.
Before the adoption of the steam engine by ride designers in 1886, virtually all rides were manually driven or powered by animals. The ‘Over-Boat’ and ‘Over-the-Tops’ rides, which were sort of a cross between a boat swing and a Ferris wheel, were early examples of mechanically driven swing rides. Swing rides, many incorporating boat-shaped vehicles, remain a common feature at amusement parks and carnivals today. Although they are larger and somewhat more thrilling than the quaint Boat Swings, the ‘Pirate Ship’ rides are direct descendants of these early swing rides.
Franz Glaser built this one-of-a-kind set of boat swings in about 1920 in Czechoslovakia. It enjoyed a long history of use in Germany before Jim Conklin acquired it for his antique midway. Mr. Conklin gave the swings to Heritage Park in 1984.