In 1893, W.E. Sullivan visited the Colombian Exposition, where he marveled at the original Ferris Wheel. Mr. Sullivan owned a bridge-building business, the Eli Bridge Company, but remained fascinated by the Wheel and was determined to build one of his own. Sullivan’s first “Big Eli” Wheel debuted in Jacksonville, Illinois’ own Central Park on May 23, 1900. In 1919, a new factory building was erected in Jacksonville, and has been doing business at that location ever since. The first wheel, Big Eli Wheel #1, now proudly stands in front of the factory. Although the factory is not open for tours, visitors can take a spin on the locally-operated wheel in Community Park during the summer and autumn months.