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Faribault Tilt-A-Whirl

by Tami Schluter
(Faribault, MN)




Herbert Sellner invented the Tilt-A-Whirl in 1926, at his Faribault, Minnesota, home.  Family legend states that Herbert experimented with a chair placed on the kitchen table. Herbert's son, Art, sat in the chair while Herbert rocked the table back and forth.  Over the next year, the first 14 Tilt-A-Whirls were built in Herbert's basement and yard. In 1927, Sellner Manufacturing opened its factory in Faribault and the ride debuted that year at the Minnesota State Fair.  Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides continued to be manufactured at the iconic Faribault facility until the company was sold in 2011.

A restored tilt-a-whirl car, which was featured in August 2014 on the cable network History Channel series, American Restoration, was placed in its permanent home in the historic downtown district of Faribault, MN. The American Restoration episode entitled, “Boy Meets Whirl,” highlighted the restoration of an individual ride “car,”  which was donated by Harley’s Auto Salvage in Faribault. The car was saved by the salvage yard’s late founder, Harley Pettipiece. Sellner used Harley’s as their scrap metal dealer. “Dad dreamed of restoring the car and putting it in his backyard,” said son, Gary Pettipiece. “When the girls called to see the car I told them that the only way I would donate it was if they agreed to use it as a tourist attraction in Faribault and that it could never be sold for profit . . . they agreed!  Dad would be pleased.”

The “girls” are two local business owners, Tami Schluter, of the Historic Hutchinson House B&B, and Peggy Keilen, of Faribo Air Conditioning & Heating, who initiated the project.  “This has been an idea floating around Faribault for a long time,” said Keilen “it was just a matter of securing a car.” Once they had the car in their possession, Schluter e-mailed the show’s producer in New York. “I sent an e-mail late on a Thursday evening and the show’s producer called the next morning to say they were “very excited” about the project. This is just one of so many great Faribault stories and a community asset that we thought would pique some regional and national interest for Faribault.” Schluter said.

Tami Schluter
Historic Hutchinson House B&B

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