Ferris Wheel In The Sky Keeps On Turning

Ready yourselves because today’s funny/interesting/curious name isn’t chock full of vowels or silly sounds or alliteration. ‘Tis true. But it will honor today’s birthday boy (no, not John Travolta), the guy on the one dollar bill. So buckle up, because we’re about to go on a wonderfully spherical ride.

The dapper Dan above is George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an American engineer and inventor, not to be confused with the other famous Ferris–Bueller, the sick-faking high school slacker in the 1986 film. As you can probably surmise, this Ferris is best known for creating the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, aka the World’s Fair, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the New World in 1492. We all know that rhyme, don’t we?  


Though he appears to be named after our first president, he was actually the junior to dad, George Washington Gale Ferris, Sr, a minister. The Senior Ferris founded Galesburg, Illinois. And isn’t that odd, considering Gale wasn’t even his last name? Gale is an uncommon male name. Remember Gale Gordon from The Lucy Show eons ago? I can tell you it’s not hitting the Top 100 Baby Names for 2019. But props for getting a city named after himself. Senior also founded Knox College, site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. So, in more than one way, he was a founding father. And isn’t that nominative determinism in the best way possible?

Founding cities and colleges like a boss.

GW, Sr per Pinterest

What’s odd is that Junior had a brother 16 years his senior, named Frederick. Usually, it’s the firstborn son that holds the Junior title to the Senior. Nonetheless, he carried the name all his 39 years, in the same manner as did George Washington Carver, another inventor himself. Y’all remember how he promoted alternative crops like peanuts? You might not know he was kidnapped at a week old, though, but that’s a whole nother story.

Now back to Ferris! He proposed an awesome wheel that would “Out-Eiffel Eiffel” for the fair. And while the planners understandably feared his design might spill souls out all over the ground, he engineered and constructed a mighty fine wheel. It held 36 cars, each accommodating up to 60 people, giving a total capacity of 2,160. How is that even possible? When I rode the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach, it only had 42 “gondolas.” No way it could hold 2000 folks. But this first Ferris Wheel did the unthinkable for 50 cents a person. By the time it was demolished in 1906, it had carried 2.5 million passengers!

And lest you think GW’s no longer walk amonst us, per http://www.howmanyofme.com, there are currently 926 people in the U.S. named George Washington. Have you ever met one?

Sadly, the legit George Washington never had children of his own, serving as stepfather instead. So there are no George Washington, Juniors in that regard. But his image lives on in both currency and silly internet humor.


Well, that’s it for today, folks! Enjoy your President’s Day!



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10 Responses to Ferris Wheel In The Sky Keeps On Turning

  1. ksbeth says:

    i remember reading about him in ‘devil in the white city,’ a very creepy true story but so many fascinating people were discussed including ferris –

  2. Benson says:

    I have heard of Mr. Ferris before but I don’t know that I was aware of the size of the cars. 60 people each! That was one heck of a structure. That was like making the Eiffel Tower fly. Out doing Mr Eiffel indeed.

  3. Ferris Jr. resembles his father in the eyes, nose, and mustache. What an amazing feat of engineering in the first of it’s kind Ferris Wheel.

  4. wdydfae says:

    “. . . ONE! One little Kerby post. Ho ho ho. TWO! Two little Kerby posts. Ho ho ho . . .”
    The Count

    “. . . Ferris wheel keep on turnin’
    Proud Kerby keep on burnin’
    Postin’, postin’, postin’ at the BoFN
    Postin’, postin’, postin’ at the BoFN . . .”

    Creedence Clearwater Revival

    “. . . What goes up must come down
    Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round
    Been a while since Kerby posted, it’s a cryin’ sin
    But Kerby’s postin’ now so let the spinnin’ wheel spin . . .”

    Blood, Sweat & Tears

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