Big Eli Wheel No. 17

Big Eli Wheel No. 17 (HM133N)

Location: Jacksonville, IL 62650 Morgan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 43.361', W 90° 13.775'

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"I have discovered the machine I want to design and build, a portable 'Ferris Wheel'", W. E. Sullivan, 1893.

A young man's dream became reality when W. E. Sullivan of Roodhouse, Illinois, designed and built a small, portable, revolving wheel, patterned after the Ferris wheel at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He called his invention "Big Eli."

On May 23, 1900, in the square of downtown Jacksonville, "Big Eli: a 45' high wheel made of twelve structural steel spokes with carriage seats at their extremities, and supported by a steel axle offered rides to all who dared to revolve in the bridge-like device. It grossed $5.56 that day.

"Big Eli No. 17" was constructed in 1907 and was the 17th "wheel" built by Mr. Sullivan's manufacturing concern. Eli Bridge Company.

"Big Eli No. 17" thrilled crowds at amusement parks in Duluth, MN, Leavenworth, KS, San Antonio, TX, Guaymas, Mexico and Miami, FL in 1957. No. 17 returned home to the Eli Bridge Company for renovation originally built with 10 seats, No 17 was converted to a 12 seater and sold to the Jacksonville Rotary Club. Rotary installed No. 17 in Nichols Park and operated it there until increased insurance costs forced its closure in 1985.

In 1986, the Rotary Club donated "Big Eli no. 17" to the City of Jacksonville, with the assistance of Eli Bridge Company and private donations. The structure was renovated and re[erected at its present site. Big Eli No. 1 stands in the front yard of the Eli Bridge Company.

HM NumberHM133N
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Illinois State Historical Society series
Year Placed1989
Placed ByThe Save the Wheel Commission and the Illinois State Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 at 8:57am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 737452 N 4400648
Decimal Degrees39.72268333, -90.22958333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 43.361', W 90° 13.775'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 43' 21.66" N, 90° 13' 46.50" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1014 S Main St, Jacksonville IL 62650, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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