Natatorium Park

 Hence the first baseball park in Spokane was built and the name changed to Twickenham. The park was very crowded on baseball days but empty at other times.
Natatorium Park, a famous Spokane landmark, used to be called Twickenham Park, and before that Ingersall's Park (early 1880's). In 1887 a Spokane capitalist, Sherwood, financed a cable car line across the first wooden Monroe Street Bridge. The cable car needed a destination at the end to attract riders.
In 1892 Spokane Street Railway, a part of Washington Water Power, bought the whole park and decided to expand it into an amusement park patterned after Coney Island. The park was open for 75 years. and closed in 1963.

Natatorium Park was located on the Spokane river where it begins a big S curve. It was several miles from the center of the city at the end of Boone Avenue.   
They built a swimming pool next to the river and then went looking for a fancy name. In 1895, they found the Latin name -- natatorium! So that is how Nat Park got its name. People could take the West Boone Avenue street car for five cents to the end of the line to get to Nat Park. Families took picnics and enjoyed the rides and the swimming pool.

The Amusement Park had several intriguing rides. One popular attraction was the "Joy Wheel," the floor rotated on a big wheel in the middle of the room. Another popular ride was the Jack Rabbit Roller Coaster. It was the only ride in Nat Park where someone was killed in 1965. They burned the Jack Rabbit because they were closing the park

The Loof Carrousel

The Loof Carrousel was a very special attraction at Nat Park. It was installed in 1909. The creator of the Carrousel was a German wood- carver named Charles I.D. Looff. Looff got the idea for the Carrousel from watching a team of wild racing horses on a Brooklyn street in 1904. The Carrousel includes 54 horses, 1 Giraffe, 1 Tiger and 2 dragon chairs, all carved by Looff. It took him two years to carve the horses. 
Each set of three horses balance from a heavy rod called a 'Crank'. Every horse jumps six times on every revolution of the Carrousel. The Carrousel had a German-made Ruth organ which provides music to this day. The rings add an enjoyment to the ride. The rings are pulled from a ring arm. A brass ring got you a free a ride back then. The reason you had to wait for your turn on the Carrousel is because the music would have to rewind.
Loof thought that he had agreement with WWP to purchase the Carrousel, however when he returned to Spokane after two years work, WWP balked at paying $20,000. So, Loof gave the Carrousel as a wedding present to his daughter, Emma and her husband, Louis Vogel. A deal was made for Louis Vogel to operate the Carrousel and other attractions at a percentage. He worked as Concession Director for the next 20 years and then bought Nat Park from WWP in 1929 for $127,000.

When Nat Park closed in 1963, people had no desire to lose the Carrousel. Many of Spokane's citizens started an organization to buy it. The asking price was $40,000. Lots of plastic gold rings and ' Save The Carrousel' buttons were sold. After 13 years in storage, a final site in the new Riverfront Park was selected. It re-opened in 1975. Now the Carrousel is valued at 450,000 dollars.
There are 6 black armored horses and all the horses are different in their own way. The Spokane Carrousel has a lead horse. You can always tell who the lead horse is by its head position. The lead horse always has its head up high. The lead horse's name is Oliver.
Send comments Discovery SchoolStudents copyright (c) 2000, Discovery School.
All rights reserved.
Revised: September 22, 2002 and March 19, 2004
Natatorium Park picture from *The Spokesman-Review, May 18, 1997
Reports created in 2000 and 2001.