Farmall Cub Keeps the Big Eli Ferris Wheel Going 'Round

The "Big Eli" Ferris wheel runs using a Farmall Cub engine that once powered a tractor.

| January 2012

  • Farmall Cub Engine
    A Farmall Cub dating to about 1947 is the Sharptown Big Eli’s power source. 
  • The Big Eli Ferris Wheel
    This “Big Eli” Ferris wheel was built in Indiana in 1917. It remains in operation today at the Sharptown (Md.) Firemen’s Carnival.  

  • Farmall Cub Engine
  • The Big Eli Ferris Wheel

Farm Collector reader Richard H. Lehr, Delmar, Del., recently sent this letter: “I thought your readers may be interested in the enclosed photos of a 1917 ‘Big Eli’ Ferris wheel built by Eli Bridge Co., Jacksonville, Ind. The wheel is for the most part original. It is unique in that it is run using a cable system that has served the same unit since new. What I found interesting is that the power system is a circa 1947 Farmall Cub engine placed on a cart after its original use as a tractor.

“The Ferris wheel is owned by the Sharptown (Md.) Fire Department. It reportedly replaced a similar Ferris wheel that was lost in a 1914 hurricane. The wheel is used every year for several weeks in August at the annual Sharptown Firemen’s Carnival. The operators say it is a mite finicky. Because of the cable driven system, rider weight distribution is important. If it is loaded too heavily on one side, the wheel has a tendency to run backwards.

"Founded in 1906, Eli Bridge remains in operation in Jacksonville and produces a variety of carnival rides.” FC 

–Richard H. Lehr 

To read more about Ferris wheels check out Ferris Wheel Launched at the 1893 Exposition from Let's Talk Rusty Iron.