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What do Ferris Wheels and Mercer County PA have in Common?

Frank J. McCain, a contractor, helped build the first Ferris wheel that was displayed at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.  Frank lived in East Lackawannock Township in Mercer County, PA from 1899 to 1910 in the “House on the Hill,” which still stands. 

In 1908, he remodeled the house to make it more modern.  He acquired stone steps from the burned-out Mercer County Courthouse that he had also helped build.  He owned F.J. McCain and Brother Co., and was one of two contractors who received major contracts for structural components for the wheel, according to the Chicago Historical Society.

The wheel, which had a diameter of 250 feet and a maximum height of 264 feet, was created by Pittsburgh bridge builder George W. Ferris.  Supported by two 140-foot steel towers, its 45-foot axle was the largest single piece of forged steel at the time in the world.  It had 36 wooden cars that could each hold 60 people.

Along with is work on the first Ferris wheel, McCain, also helped build the first steel skyscraper in Chicago.

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