January 21, 2019

Remembering the Chicago Wheel

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Rose Cranz carefully places a well-worn scrapbook in her lap. She begins flipping through the pages gently as to not tatter its contents. Memories flood in with the stories her great grandfather had re-counted, reaching back at least 6 generations.

Young and inspired Harry Cranz started life in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where he left school to take a job at a local steel mill. The work was hard and the hours long, but he managed to eke out a living. Young Cranz was viewed as a go-getter by the management and when the mill won a sizable project, Harry became a foreman.

Railroad man and bridge builder George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. needed parts manufactured for special project; a giant, rotating, iron wheel and substructure that would become a 264-foot-high spectacle at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus coming to the New World. The wheel supported 36 cars where over 2,100 exposition visitors at a time could experience the neo-classically designed fair grounds from a bird’s eye view!

Harry worked tirelessly with Ferris to get the project done right and shipped. Working in tandem with site Construction Chief Luther Rice, the giant wheel was assembled in time for the exposition.

The fair stretched from May to October of 1893 and afterwards Harry was involved with the deconstruction and storage of the wheel until it could be rebuilt on another site in Chicago a year later. In the meantime, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. passed away and the wheel was sold. In 1903 the famous wheel was disassembled again and moved to St. Louis, Missouri for the St. Louis World’s Fair celebrating 100 years of the Louisiana Purchase. The legendary wheel eventually fell into disrepair and met its end in 1906, when 200 pounds of dynamite send it crumpling to the ground.

Rose closes the album and recalls a solitaire card game her great grandfather shared that not only honored the hard work of Harry Cranz, but also George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.’s magnificent wheel that dazzled millions.

Here’s what Great Grandpa Cranz taught her.

Gather up 2 decks of cards and remove all 8 kings. The kings are put aside and not used in the game. Shuffle the decks together.

Your mission is use all the cards to assemble the Ferris Wheel and get the cars filled with passengers to win.

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Deal out 8 piles of 4 cards each face up on the table. These are the parts piles and will be used to build the wheel. The rest of the deck becomes a draw pile where one card is turned over at a time. Unused cards are placed into a waste pile next to the deck.

The wheel is made up of 17 piles of cards. Eight piles start with a 2 and are built up in suit by twos. (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, queen) Eight piles start with a 3 and are built up in suit by twos as well. (3, 5, 7, 9, jack) The axle in the middle of the wheel is made up of aces built in alternating colors. (red, black, red etc. OR black, red, black etc.)

To start, move top cards from the parts pile to the wheel when possible. When no more cards can be moved, turn over the cards from the deck one at a time, moving cards to the wheel and adding parts cards when possible. When a parts pile is used up, take the top 4 cards from the waste pile and form a new parts pile. Hint: Moving cards from the discard pile to the parts pile is KEY to winning the game! Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to lay more parts cards onto the wheel piles!

Once the draw pile is gone, one at a time, a parts card can be built up or down in suit onto other parts piles to free cards below them. When a parts pile is used up and an empty space created, move any parts card to the empty space. Hint: Try to move a card that unburies a card that can be added to the wheel. Keep the empty space as long as possible to help release buried cards and get them moved onto the wheel!

In this giant wheel card game there are no re-deals. Look closely at the cards to avoid missed opportunities to move parts cards to the wheel, ending the game early!

To win, get all the parts cards built into the structure and discover passengers in each one of the cars of your Chicago Wheel!

Have fun!

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Great Wheel instructions

Ferris Wheel

Columbian Expostion


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