A Home for Wayward Carousel Horses - Atlas Obscura

Irwindale, California

A Home for Wayward Carousel Horses

Visit a menagerie of whimsical merry-go-round creatures in various stages of restoration.

Tour a working stable of carnival horses this February with Atlas Obscura.

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th Century, carousels were ravaged by fires, floods, mechanical breakdowns, and bankruptcy—leaving some of their horses stranded, far away from the rest of their team.

Some of those wayward animals ended up here, in The Bray Collection, one of the world's largest collections of antique carousel figures. Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein on a private visit to this collection to examine the chariots, jumpers, prancers, and flying horses that have assembled here—plus a herd of other wild animals.

Lourinda Bray's Running Horse Studio is a rare carousel horse museum as well as a restoration studio. Thanks to its extensive archives of over 100 years of carousel history, the studio can return an antique survivor of tragedy and neglect back to its original factory-new condition—even if it comes to them as a bag of wood shards.

On our tour, we'll see how salvaged figures originally created by the great masters of the Golden Age—Looff, Dentzel, Herschell, etc.—are repainted by hand in their original color schemes, decorated with lavish gold leafing, and outfitted with new eyes and real horsehair tails. We'll also witness some of the new work being done in this dying art form: modern day master woodcarvers can reproduce vintage designs, or create new ones in the likeness of a unicorn, jackalope, dragon or lake monster—or even of your cat Fluffy or your dog Scruffy.


  • Please leave plenty of time for weekend travel and traffic. Irwindale is located 25 miles east of Downtown L.A.
  • No children under 12 years old. All minors must be ticketed and accompanied by an adult. 
  • This is a working art studio—please beware of paints, glazes, glues, metal leafing, power tools, and sharp implements, as well as potential fumes, sawdust, and other minor hazards. Wear closed-toed shoes and watch where you step.
  • A signed liability waiver will be required from all attendees.


Email Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein at sandi@atlasobscura.com

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