George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.
The man who invented the Ferris Wheel for the Chicago World Columbian Exposition in 1893 grew up in Carson City. Ferris arrived in Nevada in 1864 at the age of five. His father, George Ferris Sr., was a horticulturalist who was responsible for much of the landscaping in Carson City in the 1870s, including the grounds of the State Capitol.
The Ferris’ lived in the Carson Valley for two years, then moved to a house on the southeast corner of Third and Division streets in Carson City. In 1875, George Ferris Jr. left Nevada to attend the California Military Academy in Oakland. In 1880, he received a degree in civil engineering and was hired by an architectural firm in New York City.
After a few years, he was hired by a Pittsburgh firm and it was while working there that he designed the Ferris Wheel as an attraction for the World Exposition in 1893. The 250-foot wheel was an immediate hit at the fair and in less than a half year carried 1.4 million passengers. In 1904, the wheel was moved to St. Louis for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Following the show, it was destroyed for scrap. However, the wheel outlived Ferris, who died in Pittsburgh in 1896 at the age of 37.