Full Background of the Eugene K. Feerer Collection
The core component of the NAPHA Archives is the Eugene K. Feerer Collection. Mr. Feerer was a former president of International Amusement Device. Inc ("IADI"). That name may not be familiar to you but the company's previous names, National Amusement Device ("NAD") and, before that, the Dayton Fun House & Manufacturing Company, might ring a bell. The company was founded by Aurel "Dutch" Vaszin (1885-1979) sometime in the early 1920s.
The history of NAD and later IADI, lived on in box after box of the company's old records. Yet when lADI's new owners moved the firm from NAD's old complex in Dayton to its new offices in Sandusky, a decision was made to literally throw this history away! Luckily, it was NOT a decision that lADI's new president. Eugene K. Feerer. agreed with. Though he had been hired from outside the amusement industry, Feerer had the heart and soul of an amusement man and the instincts of a historian. He had the foresight to save box upon box of records rather than let them be trashed.
Nearly two decades later, NAPHA's founder Ralph Lopez and NAPHA member Derek Gee, while researching their book on Chicago's Riverview Park, Laugh Your Troubles Away, learned of Mr. Feerer and the mass of matenal he had saved. They urged him to bequeath these records to NAPHA. It is this material that is preserved today as the Feerer Collection of the NAPHA Archives.
And what a collection it is! There is a treasure trove of matenal on John A. Miller alone—plans, profiles, parts lists for coaster after coaster, some famous, some obscure, even some unidentified. Not just coasters are included, but Miller water rides, fun houses, dome buildings, loading stations, even layouts for entire parks. Correspondence with Harry Baker is contained, along with letters from L.A. Thompson, Harry Traver, Norman Bartlett, patent lawyers and park owners.
There are photos of coasters, coaster cars, and other rides. All in all. it is perhaps the largest collection of John A. Miller material anywhere. In addition to this information, there are cabinets of Dayton Fun House/NAD/IADI material: ride plans: spec lists; correspondence; photos of parks and rides from the 1920s to the 1970s, including different models of Century Flyer coaster cars; designs for fun house and dark ride animation; and plans, catalogs, etc. from other ride manufacturers.
While this priceless collection forms the core of the NAPHA Archives, NAPHA is actively adding such things as reference books, magazines, brochures and press kits, photos, postcards, slides and videotapes, park memorabilia, correspondence and other artifacts to the Archives.
NAPHA is a member of the Illinois State Historical Society and has an ultimate goal of building a National Amusement Industry Museum where items from the Archives can be put on display and can be accessible in a Historical Reference Library.
June 9, 2008 - The following was received from Timothy Feerer, son of Eugene K. Feerer, who provided extensive historical material to the NAPHA Archives:
My sister Jane found your organization. I had no idea my father had a collection named after him. I wish you the best of luck.