Each time we are visiting Brian and Eve we ask them for suggestions of new things for us to explore. Pullen Park, Raleigh NC was their immediate response this time.
A man in a red sweater standing under an arch that reads Pullen Park with trees behind him.

Welcome to Pullen Park!

Beautiful landscape and garden with brown mulch areas

The gardens at Pullen Park

To give you a little bit of history, Pullen Park was founded on March 22, 1887 when Richard Stanhope Pullen donated farmland to the City of Raleigh to be used solely for the recreational enjoyment of its citizens and visitors. Though the shy donor was not really in favor of using his name this land became Pullen Park, the first public park in North Carolina. According to Wikipedia “a ‘Committee on Public Parks’ was formed to oversee the transformation from farmland to landscaped park and a Park Keeper was hired in 1888 to oversee these modifications. Pullen continued his own involvement by taking part in the planning and financing of bridges, roads and paths throughout the park as well as the planting of trees and general landscaping in the park and the neighboring NC State University which was built on land also donated by him. Pullen’s landscape design was in keeping with the times. He also financed a round pavilion for outdoor entertainment and a fountain, located near the city’s first swimming pool (for men only) in 1891. A congressman from another county donated fifty Japanese carp for the fountain which shows the significance of the park even outside of Raleigh. In 1895 modifications to the structure and regulations of the pool allowed for its use by women. The pool remained in the same place until it was replaced by the Pullen Aquatic Center in 1992.”
A beautiful antique carrousel in a enclosed building.

An Antique Carrousel

This glorious park includes many attractions but my two favorites were the carrousel and the narrow gauge train. I have always appreciated the beauty of antique carousels but I felt a true connection to this one because it was built just a few blocks from where Steve and I went to high school. I was staring intently at the beautiful carousel animals as they went up and down and round and round to the glee of the children perched on these colorful creatures when the sign at the top caught my eye. I could not believe what I was seeing. But there it was. This carousel was made in Philadelphia! The Pullen Park Carousel was built around 1900 by master carver Salvatore Cernigliaro of the Dentzel Carousel Company of Germantown, Pennsylvania which is a neighborhood in Philly. It is the very same neighborhood where Germantown High School, our alma mater, stands. The carousel has 52 hand carved basswood animals, 2 chariots, 18 large gilded mirrors and 18 canvas panels. Plus it has a Wurlitzer 125 organ which was made in 1924. The Dentzel Carousel Company was the first American carousel company. And though thousands of carousels were made in the United States, there are only about 200 antique carousels left today. Less than 25 of those remaining are Dentzel carousels and only 14 remain in operation. Pullen Park acquired this carousel for  only $1,425 (1/10 of its original cost) from another park in Raleigh that was in financial difficulty. The carousel is considered to be the park’s most popular attraction. This carousel underwent major restoration from 1977 to 1982 when the original factory paint was uncovered, documented and conserved. It was the first time such a restoration attempt had been made. Each hard carved animal was restored to its exact Munsell Color System paint color, preserving the original paint underneath a layer of shellac while enabling the animals to look just as they were originally painted. In 1976 the carousel was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it is also a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.
The engine is a near exact replica of a locomotive that was built in 1863 at the Danforth-Cook Locomotive works in Paterson, New Jersey.

Narrow Gauge Train Engine

My other favorite attraction at Pullen Park was the miniature train ride that was added in 1950 and wends its way through a tunnel and around the park. Even at our age we are still kids at heart! It was really fun to tour this gorgeous park from a seated position. The C.P. Huntington Train is a 2-foot narrow gauge railway. It is one third the size of a real train and has thrilled children of all ages since it was added to the park. The engine is a near exact replica of a locomotive that was build in 1863 at the Danforth-Cook Locomotive works in Paterson, New Jersey.
A lake surrounded by foliage with a wrought iron fence.

The gorgeous view from our narrow gauge train trip through the park

Beautiful trees and a lake.

More of the Pullen Park landscape.

A beautiful arching bridge across a lake with grassy hills and trees.

Check out that romantic bridge!

The view from a narrow gauge train in Pullen Park with trees and landscape.

Our train returning to the station at Pullen Park

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