Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Amusement Park Ride Patent by my Great Great Grandfather

This is another post on "20th Century Americana". My Great Great Grandfather Peter Hoogerzeil (1841 - 1908) was an inventor.  He patented many inventions for improving household items such as wheelbarrows, stove ovens, and baking pans.  While researching his patents, I found this amusing design:

It seems that Peter was trying to come up with a clever ride for an amusement park. I can only think that perhaps he was inspired by Salem Willows Park, in Salem, Massachusetts.  Peter Hoogerzeil lived in Beverly, Massachusetts on Bartlett Street, just a short walk from the harbor.  Across the water he would have been able to see Salem Willows.  It was lit up at night, and featured fireworks.  I'm sure that since he was obviously a creative man, he spent some time thinking of an invention he might be able to sell to an amusement park.

Don't you love the 1907 figures drawn on this ride? It was patented on 12 March 1907 under Number 847,002.  These are the actual sketches given as part of his patent application.  Peter Hoogerzeil died on 10 May 1908, just a little more than a year after his invention was patented.  Several toys and some exercise equipment have used his patent, as you can see on a Google Patent search.

If you suspect that an ancestor might own a patent, you can search under by name or a patent number. There are more than 7 million US patents on this database, and the applications and technical drawings and sketches will come up in the results.

Salem Willows Park was first planted in 1801 as part of a public smallpox hospital on the grounds.  Later the area was developed into a public park in 1858, and then an amusement park in the early 20th century. Salem Willows is still open with free parking and no admission charge.  The historic 1866 merry-go-round is still operating, as well as kiddie rides and an arcade with vintage pinball machines.

A modern version of the "Seesaw" ride
is the Pirate Ship at Canobie Lake Park, Windham, New Hampshire

Salem Willows Park website

More blog posts about Peter Hoogerzeil's inventions and patents
A wheelbarrow
Several  patents
Google Patents

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Heather,

    My great-grandfather was an inventor too. And my uncle found his patent online and sent me the info. about it. It was so fascinating and cool to see his patent!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful day!

  2. Its very interesting..Im working on my ancestor lines..Cobb,Knight,Styles,Proctor, French,Moon,Slade,etc.some from Vt.NH.Ca.etc....

  3. Very cool Heather! King's Dominion in Virginia has a ride very similar to the Pirate Ship called The Viking Ship or something like that.

    P.S. Isn't Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH? If a recall correctly, the western shore of Canobie Lake is the eastern edge of the limits of Windham and the lake and Canobie Lake Park are all inside Salem. I lived in Salem for a few years when I was in elementary school and our home was between Old Rockingham Rd. and the Park. The only thing then between our backyard and the entrance to Canobie Lake Park was a great expanse of woods and every Saturday in the summer I could look out my bedroom window and hear and see the weekly fireworks display at the Park.

    1. Yes, Canobie is in Salem, on the Windham border. We were recently there for a company picnic, and I saw the pirate ride and thought of my ancestor's patent. I don't know if this ride was ever built, or if it was ever at Salem Willows, but it's something fun to think about.