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MMD > Archives > August 2008 > 2008.08.04 > 01Prev  Next

Ruth Organ at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
By Julie Porter

It was my understanding that the organ arrived in 1894 at the Santa
Cruz Beach Boardwalk without any facade.  I spent most of the day
Sept. 10th, 2001, looking at the organ -- the sort of day that sticks
out for a number of reasons.

The organ was originally operated by a barrel.  The bearing blocks and
mount points were still present.  I was mostly interested in the under
pipes as I had recently acquired a large collection of pipes and wanted
to see what Ruth pipes looked like.  As I remember they were in pretty
bad shape as there was a lot of sand on the floor.  It was hard to see
under there, but I seem to recall that the pipes were a bit worn from
the abrasions and were not particularly unique.

I found the email of Sept. 10, 2001.  It might be interesting to post
it to a wider audience.  Keep in mind that this was written over 7 years
ago and I was just learning about these large organs at the time.

The amusement park is at the north end of Monterey Bay, basically on
the Pacific Ocean.  The organ is dated to 1894, it has been in the
park nearly as long.  For information see my MMD posting at 

I think in the 1950s or 1960s the present glass building was built for
the carousel (one of the few in its original location).  The organ is
in a room accessible from the rear.  It can be seen through a glass
window.  There is no facade and has never been a facade according to
record.  As the organ has been in the park most of it's life one
wonders how it got there from Waldkirch...

A Wurlitzer 165 duplex frame supplied the music at one time.  These
roll frames still appear to be operational.  In addition, a MIDI system
can be used to play the organ; there is a jukebox in the front where
customers can select the tune.

The pipework is similar to the types of pipes I have at home.  It looks
like an additional register of flageolets was added, possibly to support
the Style 165 music.  These pipes are visible in the front with a
Wurlitzer-style register control.  Wind is supplied by a blower under
the boardwalk in a basement.  The original pumps are in place and the
blower supply is teed in on one side through ducting.

The main maintenance worker was on a much deserved vacation.  The
assistant was quite knowledgeable about the operation and said that
the park did the maintenance and the machine was quite reliable for
its age.  He played it.  There was a cipher.  I do not think one is
supposed to listen to it from five feet away!

There is still a rack of rolls and spool chucks.  Under this are
boxes of rolls that seem not to have been touched in ages.  The rolls
in the rack seemed to be Play-Rite recuts.  I did not look to see what
was on the chucks.  We did make a quick note of the numbers on the
boxes in the corner.  These had typewritten labels.  A check at the web site indicates that they are T.R.T. "new"
arrangements, I think from the 1940s and 50s.

We noted down the visible numbers.  XXX, Bits and pieces 6641, 6800,
6801, 6669, 6697, 6707, 6711, 6697, 6698 (possibly 2 copies), 6700
(possibly 2 copies), 6710, 6709, 6696, 6689, 6676, 6708, 6701, 6091,
6511 and a Wurlitzer 150 test roll.  I looked up most of these on the
site.  6091, for Caliola, is the only oddball.  Some of the labels
were hard to read.

As I noted only the front rank of pipes looked out of place.  There is
a rank of upside down pipes behind the trumpets.  The trumpets do look
a lot like mine.  Then again, the more one looks at this stuff the more
it starts looking similar.

The trombones are interesting as the base of the resonator is rounded.
The wood is full of pockets and inclusions.  On the other hand, the
grain is practically perfect.  An unusual feature is that some of the
larger freined pipes had inset mouths.  I suspect these were in the
accompaniment section.

I must say that this is the way I think organs in parks should be
treated.  The only information I am unable to locate is the model number.
I still think it would be fun to see if some of the Ruth arrangements
I have could be played on the machine.  With MIDI control this could be
really practical.

There was a machine outside that looked like a small Belgian dance
organ with piccolos and accordion.  The maintenance worker said that
this was run from the same MIDI control system and the two machines
could play together.

Julie Porter

(Message sent Mon 4 Aug 2008, 07:44:15 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Beach, Boardwalk, Cruz, Organ, Ruth, Santa

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