George Washington Gale Ferris

George Washington Gale Ferris

Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, USA
Death 22 Nov 1896 (aged 37)
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 6201720 · View Source
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Civil Engineer. He was the inventor of the Ferris wheel, which has become an American amusement park mainstay. Born in Galesburg, Illinois, where as a child he always displayed an aptitude toward mechanics. The family moved to Carson City, Nevada where his father, George Sr. started a landscaping business (much of the landscaping still remains in that city with the most notable being on the state capitol grounds). George Jr. left home in 1875 to attend a military academy in Oakland, California and then on the New York where he received a degree in civil engineering. He relocated to Pittsburgh and founded G.W.G. Ferris and Company. Here the Monster Wheel was developed and it was constructed on the grounds of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. The wheel, measuring 250 feet in diameter, 30 feet broad, and weighing an enormous 7,400 tons, won him the declaration of "genius". After the closing of the fair, he was obsessed with the wheel, investing his dwindling cash reserves in schemes to build and sell bigger and better wheels across the country. Completely bankrupt, he moved into a hotel in Pittsburgh spending his remaining days friendless and alone. He refused to seek medical attention and was finally checked into Mercy Hospital where he died at the young age of 37. He was cremated by a Pittsburgh crematorium which held his unclaimed ashes for fifteen months pending payment of the bill. They were finally given to his brother and the disposition is unknown.


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Ron Moody
  • Added: 21 Feb 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6201720
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for George Washington Gale Ferris (14 Feb 1859–22 Nov 1896), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6201720, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.