VOLO AUTO MUSEUM
27582 VOLO VILLAGE RD
VOLO , Illinois
This Kiddie Hook and Ladder Fire Tuck Amusement Ride was purchased new in 1951 by the Whalom Amusement Park and used for 49 years until the park closed down in 2000. Whalom Amusement Park was one of the first amusement parks in the US. The Massachusetts park opened in 1893. The truck was designed with wooden benches in the rear that would hold up to 25 children. The ladders are mounted on hinges and swing open and close to secure passengers while in use.
The truck has only 9k actual miles and underwent a cosmetic restoration. These Hook and Ladder trucks are very rare and desirable because its a unique novelty. What makes this one special is the fact that its history is known. Most of the examples today don't have the pedigree and background and could even be replicas. Knowing where this truck came from, how it was used provides a historic value on top of its novelty value, plus we can be certain its an original and not a replica!
Overland-Crosley firetruck ride boasts
impressive, extensive Whalom Park history
There's so much more than a modified vintage Crosley in this firetruck. It's an Overland Amusements kiddie ride original crafted especially for Whalom Park in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.
Whalom enjoyed an amazing 107-year history, delighting visitors as far back as 1893. And this very firetruck ferried happy kids - as well as park mascots - for 49 of those 107 years, from 1951 right up until the park's final farewell on Labor Day weekend 2000.
Eye the gold-leaf Kiddie Fire Department emblem on the Crosley "tractor" and walk the length of the attached trailer - with its ladder-restrained, back-to-back bench seats, brass bell, hose and fire extinguisher embellishments - and one might well imagine the happy shouts of the thousands of children who once climbed aboard.
One of just four of this particular model, the Crosley hook-and-ladder truck was built by Overland Amusements of Lexington, Massachusetts.
Its purchaser was none other than one of the nation's most enduring and beloved amusement parks, one featuring a lakeside setting and a theater that drew world-renowned acts. And from its very first day on the job at the park until its last, this Overland-Crosley firetruck kiddie ride also was beloved.
Still bearing its original park registration tags, the firetruck was noteworthy news the year of its debut. A local, 1951 Massachusetts news clipping highlights the ride's imminent arrival as part of the park's upcoming attractions.
Crosleys were historically significant in their own right. Built in Indiana between 1939 and 1952, the "microcars" were an affordable form of transportation for the masses. Original models sold for under $375 and featured no gas gauge, a hand-cranked windshield wiper and windows that slid open for hand signaling.
But what really makes this model unique is not only the fact that it was among the few 1951 Crosleys modified by Overland, but that it also enjoyed such a lengthy and uninterrupted Whalom Park heritage.
Most amusement parks didn't last that long. This one dated back all the way to 1893. And this Overland-Crosley, bought by Whalom brand new in 1951, was placed in continual use until Labor Day 2000.
It's impossible to guess how many thousands of kids crawled up the back gate to claim their seats before an operator at the lakeside park lowered the ladders that secured them. How many tiny hands grasped the long, thin rope that clanged the truck's bell over its decades of use?
It's a fair bet, though, that both numbers are high. Trolleys brought patrons to Whalom Park from nearby Leominster, Fitchburg and Gardner during the summers as far back as the late 1800s. And the list of stars who performed at the Whalom Park Theatre through the late 1960s was impressive, including Ethel Barrymore, Imogene Coca, Merv Griffin, Herbert Marshall, Walter Pidgeon, Mickey Rooney, Joan Blondell, Peggy Cass and many more.
To be a part of such a rich history for such a long time gives this kiddie ride an unrivaled cool factor. For a time, the tiny trailor-tractor was even pressed into service as a Whalom Park parade vehicle from which park mascots waved to the crowds, a duty it diligently performed right through the park's final hours.
Preserving this Overland-Crosley kiddie ride's history, along with honoring the park's unique place in the nation's past, is something we celebrate.