Carillon Park home to Wright Brothers’ airplane
Story and photos by Sarah Allen
The airplane. Freon. The pop-top can.
These seemingly unrelated items actually have a lot in common — they can all be traced back to Dayton. And those inventions — and many more — are all celebrated at the open-air history museum, Carillon Park.
While officially opened in 1950, the park first began to take shape in 1942 with the construction of its iconic carillon. And, in the nearly 70 years since then, Carillon Park has grown and changed on its endless mission toward education and ingenuity — making it a true reflection of the inventors that it honors.
Lauryn Bayliff, director of community development at Dayton History, gave an example of the many changes the park has seen. In the 10 years she’s been with the park, Bayliff said, “We’ve had a new attraction about every year.”
One such added exhibit, she said, was Carillon Brewing Co. Added in 2014, this fully operational 1850s-style brewery uses methods and recipes from that era.
She also described other popular stops in the park, such as the Newcom Tavern, which was originally built in 1796 and is the oldest building in Dayton. Bayliff added that the park also has a “wide collection of transportation artifacts,” including “planes, trains, automobiles and bicycles.”
The most famous exhibit, however, is the 1905 Wright Flyer III — one of the aircrafts built by and used by Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Flyer is considered the first practical plane and is the only aircraft designated a historical landmark.
“The plane causes a lot of interest and intrigue,” Bayliff said.
But while the Wright Brothers may be the most famous of Dayton’s inventors, they are certainly not the only ones — and Carillon Park celebrates them all. Along with Freon and pop-top cans, Dayton was also the birthplace of the electric self-starter for automobiles and was the original home of the National Cash Register Co.
Bayliff said the park aims to showcase “how Dayton changed the world with these inventions.”
Those many inventions inspired the Carousel of Dayton Innovation. The hand-carved carousel highlights Dayton-born companies and innovations, and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages in the park’s Heritage Center.
Bayliff also said another favorite stop for kids is a train ride that accompanies one of the outdoor exhibits. There is also a picnic area, as well as a diner called Culp’s Café, which pays homage to Culp’s Cafeteria — a downtown Dayton staple in the 1930s and 1940s. Sandwiches, soups, sodas and ice cream are served there.
In addition, guests can also visit a schoolhouse, a covered bridge, a U.S. Navy WAVES cabin and a print shop, as well as many other buildings that, together, take visitors on a journey through Dayton’s many milestones. The end result is an experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
“All of our artifacts are unique,” Bayliff said. “We tell very specific stories. We have things that are ‘the first’ or ‘the only.’”
1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton