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Farmall Cub Keeps the Big Eli Ferris Wheel Going ‘Round

Author Photo
By Richard H. Lehr

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

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 w3ecu@netzero.com

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

Published on Nov 18, 2011

Farm Collector Magazine

Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment