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Everything posted by Bedman

  1. It was" junked" here by the Chicago House Wrecking Company. Junking it should never be attributed to the city of St. Louis or the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company. The Chicago House wrecking Company officers consisted of Moses Harris and his four sons. They were Polish immigrants who immigrated to Chicago in the l800's and established themselves as "junkers." They fled religious persecution by Russia. They had a humble start and grew to "Junk" the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Omaha Exposition of 1897, Buffalo Exposition of 1901 and the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. They "junked" the Ferris Wheel only because no one wanted to pay the cost ($150,000.00 in 1904 dollars= $4,200,000.00 in 2020 dollars) to disassemble and move it. There were reports following the Columbian Exposition that it was headed to New York City. Ferris had even started a new company named "The New York and Chicago Ferris Wheel Company." It was incorporated in late March of 1894 and was destined for one of six locations being considered. It never happened. The same was true when it had been moved to Clark Street at Wainwright in the north of Chicago just adjacent to Lincoln Park. When no legitimate offers were proposed, the wheel was sold at auction to the Chicago House Wrecking Company. They disassembled the wheel three months later and then transported it to the Louisiana purchase Exposition in St. Louis. After the fair they too sought a buyer. They kept records of their costs to disassemble and move to St. Louis and also kept records of the receipts in St. Louis to demonstrate profitability. Their numbers were audited as the Exposition company took 25% of the draw of all concessionaires. They were a salvage company looking to garner as much revenue as they could from the wheel. These numbers and others were compiled and shred with potential buyers to no avail. It was rumored that Coney Island was interested as was Forest Park Highlands-not true. Also, it was suggested that it remain at its present location as an attraction but the city would not hear of it. They disassembled the accessory components of the wheel (passenger cars, plate glass windows, chairs in those cars, engines, lights and wiring and then elected to dynamite the wheel at its base. The first attempt failed and was followed by a second that brought the wheel to its knees. When the Fair had ended, the Chicago House Wrecking with its highest bid, was awarded the rights to salvage most of the 1904 World's fair. With respect to the components of the wheel, the 1/4-inch plate glass was purchased by John Tyler Jones for a conservatory at his residence which was located at the end of Grand Boulevard near Lake Antoine in Iron Mountain, Michigan on Iron Mountain’s North Side. The bulk of the remaining steel girders were sold as scrap after being cut up with a cutting torch. The axle which was forged steel was too hard to cut with the torches of the day and was shipped back to Chicago on two rail cars. It was eventually cut up for scrap in 1919 when oxy-acetylene torches were capable of generating temperatures sufficient to cut the forged shaft. It's original cost in 1893 dollars was $35,000.00. In 2020 dollars that would translate into $980,000.00. Of course, they never intended to recover the full amount of original cost but at 70 tons complete, the sale price of $3.00/ton would have been $210.00 in 1893 or the equivalent of $5,890.20 in 2020. Even at that price, not worth selling but worth salvaging in the hopes that a future buyer would surface. I have documentation to support all the information contained here.
  2. Hello, I received a photocopy many years ago from an avid Columbian collector of the opening ceremony for the Ferris Wheel in 1893. It featured a crowd under the wheel with tables at which were seated the dignitaries and Ferris himself. The whole area was adorned with patriotic bunting and flags. I have been looking for the source of this image (which I have misplaced) to no avail. I was hoping someone had seen this and knew of the source. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.