Circus Trains: The Second Greatest Show on Earth

PenneyVanderbilt

Ringling Brothers Advertising Car from an old postcard.
The advertising car went a couple of weeks ahead of the circus. It carried at least a dozen men and hung posters all over.

The circus and the circus train has always fascinated small children and grown-up railfans alike. Circus transportation has changed significantly in the last forty years. The circus itself has also changed. All the small circus shows have either “folded their tents” or changed to glorified stage shows.

The “big show” was and is Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. An unfortunate disaster in Hartford in the mid-1940s in which the big top caught fire almost put an end to it. A strike in the mid 1950’s brought an end to the use of the tent, and the shows have since been performed in arenas where the big top is not required. But the show goes on – by…

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