Forget Valentine’s, Happy Ferris Wheel Day!
Did you know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Ferris Wheel Day? This unofficial national holiday is held on this day to honor the birth of the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. What better way to celebrate Ferris Wheel Day than enjoying this old photograph of the Ferris Wheel taken at the Rockville Fairgrounds, courtesy of Lewis Reed. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.
For the singles and the “enough already with the Valentines”, here is your perfect alternative excuse. Go wish all your friends and family a Happy Ferris Wheel Day!
Early action shots like these are rare, however, the following photographs were taken by Lewis Reed at the Rockville Fairgrounds in the early 1910-1920s. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.
The photo above depicts an auto race at the Rockville fairgrounds. The photo of a harness race below was taken from approximately the same vantage point, which you don’t see very often in pictures from that era. Fairground race tracks, typically one-mile or half-mile dirt racing ovals with wide sweeping curves and grandstands for spectators, were easily adapted for the new sport of automobile racing.
Below is a 1923 Washington Post ad for auto race at the Rockville Fair.
Sources: Dirt Track Auto Racing, 1919-1941 – A Pictorial History By Don Radbruch
Shorpy.com – a vintage photo blog of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s
Most likely, Rockville’s first experience with baseball was during the Civil War on the fields where Richard Montgomery High School now stands. It was known as “Camp Lincoln” because of the Union encampment there, and Federal soldiers helped popularize the new game they brought from the North. After the Civil War those fields – known as the Rockville Fairgrounds – continued to be a popular place for baseball.
Reed Brothers Dodge had a company baseball team that played on those same fields. The photos below were taken by Lewis Reed on a field at the Rockville Fairgrounds circa early 1920s.
An annual County Fair used to be held for four days in the month of August at the old Fairgrounds of Rockville, Maryland. Families came from every section of the Montgomery County in wagons and carriages, and stayed for the duration of the Fair. Harness racing was one of the main attractions, but the Fair also provided other events such as horse pulls, games of chance, showing of prized livestock and poultry, needlework, homegrown produce, baked and canned goods. A building called the Exhibit House displayed the prize-winning entries of the various categories.
The Fair also gave automobile dealers the opportunity to display their new models. Below is new car show time as fair-goers get their first glimpse at the latest models that Rockville Garage had to offer. Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge.
Source: History PDF