Continuing our look at some of the world’s ride manufacturers, we come to Wisdom Rides, one of, if not the largest ride manufacturer in the U.S.A.
Like many ride builders, Wisdom can trace it’s history back to being operators rather than builders. R.T. Dowis, the Great Grandfather of the current generation of the family originally purchased a ride to travel the carnival circuit in Colorado, Nebraska and the other Plains states, all by rail at the time. In an interview his Gt Granddaughter laughed when she said I would have loved to have seen his wife’s face when he walked in and said ‘Guess what I just bought honey!”
Moving To Manufacturing
Jerry Wisdom married Elaine Osborn, the founders granddaughter, giving up the chance to play professional football (Not what we and the rest of the world call football, but that strange American game where they use their hands more than their feet). Jerry being a handy engineer, was interested in the workings of the rides the family were travelling.
During some down time he stripped the ferris wheel down, redesigned it and created something that folded rather than disassembled. This resulted in the set up time going from five to six hours for five men, to around an hour and a half for two to three men. A massive saving when help is becoming scarcer.
Jerry took over the family carnival business in 1963 and set about updating and modernising the rides. A big part of this was trailer mounting making them easier and quicker to set up and tear down.
By 1969, manufacturing and mounting rides on trailers had become a bigger part of the business. Leading to the carnival side being sold off to concentrate on the manufacturing side of things.
From A Scrambler To A Sizzler
It was 1970 when things took off for Wisdom. They had bought the rights to a ride called the Scrambler, what we tend to call a twist. They redesigned it and produced a new version known as the Sizzler. Which was a major hit on the carnival circuit.
This successful ride helped fund Wisdom’s expansion into a catalogue of around 40 different attractions that they build today. One of their major claims to fame is that they have built more roller coaster type rides than any other company in the country.