Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Ferris Wheel

My husband doesn't like midway rides. I mean, he'll do rides at Cedar Point or King's Island, but no rides that are portable. I think he gets it from his mom—she's nervous about that stuff. I read somewhere that carnival rides are actually safer than amusement park rides because they're inspected more frequently. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds reasonable to me.

Despite my husband's disdain for carnival rides, I've talked him into riding just one ride with me each year at the Indiana State Fair: the Ferris Wheel.

Photo courtesy of 2355 Photography
I love the Ferris Wheel. I love the exhilaration of being on top of the world, whisked around and around in a colorful cup.

If you've ever read the book Devil in the White City (which I highly recommend you do), it explains the debut of the Ferris Wheel at the World's Fair of 1893.

The previous World's Fair in Paris in 1889 marked the debut of Eiffel's Tower. Gustave Eiffel designed the 1,063-foot tower to be the spectacle of the fair; it was the most marvelous structure in the world. When planning began for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, they knew they needed a structure that was truly incredible.

They considered many different structures: buildings, bridges, towers that were almost identical to Eiffel (but there already was an Eiffel Tower). Along came George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., with his idea for a rotating wheel that people could ride on—something to "out-Eiffel Eiffel." It seemed incredibly dangerous, but, if it worked, it really would be marvelous. They turned him down several times before they finally decided to take a chance on him.

He had $400,000 to build the wheel. Instead of the dainty cups our modern Ferris Wheels use, his wheel had the equivalent of train cars. Each car sat up to 60 people—and with 36 cars, the wheel had a maximum capacity of 2,160. Can you imagine that many people on today's wheels? It was incredible! It took a lot of work to build

What amazes me about the Ferris Wheel is, not only is the design still in use today all over the world, it's an idea that people are continually interested in. Someone is always trying to make a bigger, better wheel. It was a fascinating idea that people still find fascinating.

I'm grateful my husband is willing to ride the Ferris Wheel with me each year. It's an experience we look forward to—being on top of the world together, looking out over the Indiana State Fair and the surrounding city. And it's a shared experience with others on the Ferris Wheel, not just at the fair, but on Ferris Wheels all over the world. What an incredible feeling!

I hope you have the same feeling about being a Christian. Being assured a place in Heaven alongside other believers all over the world. It should be just as exhilarating as a ride on that famous wheel, and it's an experience that you want to share with others.


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