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Author Topic: Circus Question  (Read 5684 times)
jettrainfan

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« on: June 12, 2012, 08:50:53 PM »

While doing a random search, i noticed that Circuses traveling by rail was really common, and it didn't seem like any of them owned their own motive power, just flat cars, coaches and other rolling stock used to transport the show. Did any circus have their own motive power, as in steam engines or diesels? Pictures of these locomotives (if any) would be great!
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richg
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2012, 09:19:18 PM »

While doing a random search, i noticed that Circuses traveling by rail was really common, and it didn't seem like any of them owned their own motive power, just flat cars, coaches and other rolling stock used to transport the show. Did any circus have their own motive power, as in steam engines or diesels? Pictures of these locomotives (if any) would be great!

Not aware of any special locos but do a Google search for circus train locomotive. You will find some fascinating circus train videos. I just did a search. Google should be your best friend.

Below is one example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjaB5lKbDyk

Rich
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jettrainfan

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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 09:33:35 PM »

Rich,

That's a good example of what i mean, The rolling stock is Ringling Bros, yet the motive power is owned by Union Pacific, im trying to look for a Circus that owned its own motive power  Smiley
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Jerrys HO
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 09:43:27 PM »

jet,

This could be a matter of cost. If the train was to break down repairs would delay show times as where leasing one would be a matter of switching loco's out with minimal down time.
This is just my thought's as I done a search also and came up with different roads pulled for Ringling and other's. I did notice alot of Ringlings rollling stock was refurbished PRR equipment.

Jerry
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RAM

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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 10:37:59 PM »

I think they may have had a small locomotive for moving cars in their yard.  Ringling Bros has two trains, the blue and the red trains.
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NarrowMinded


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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2012, 02:01:12 AM »

From a Business stand point owning their own locomotive would not make sense,

Up keep for one thing as mentioned, It would be a big expense for something that is used to move cars then sits for a couple weeks, not to mention the extra fees involved with running your own train on others lines as opposed to them moving "Freight".  rolling stock is another story though, they need specialized cars, to stow equipment and to drum up business when the kids see the circus rolling into town also  they are ready packed storage for the off season (if any) and logistically speaking a much better choice then a brick and mortar warehouse that would have to be packed and unpacked costing time and profit.

You may try contacting one of the large circuses still in operation and tell them you are interested in the history of the circus train and locomotives they could likely tell you and may even have pictures if one existed.

NM-Jeff

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mabloodhound


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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 10:05:21 AM »

I think they may have had a small locomotive for moving cars in their yard. 

Moving cars in the yard can be done using a tractor or truck.   Not necessary to ride on the rails.   And then the motive power could also be used for other tasks.

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Doneldon

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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 02:02:26 PM »

The intermittant use and maintenance issues alone would have precluded circuses having their own motive power during the steam era. With locomotives not being used for days at a time during the season and not for weeks or months at a time in the off season the circuses would have been constantly lighting up and cooling down their steamers. This is a complex, time consuming and expensive process. And I'll bet that constantly cycling the heat up and down is harder on a boiler than leaving steam up continuously. Maintenance and service would have to be farmed out at full retail because a circus couldn't take a shop along for the ride and it would be impossible to justify the cost of a shop at winterquarters since the locos wouldn't be there most of the year.

It could be different with diesels. They don't require the constant attention -- more often than daily attention -- that steam engines did. However, there are still long periods of non-revenue producing ownership during the off season which may render even diesels a poor financial option.
                                                                                                                                 -- D
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Woody Elmore

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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2012, 10:36:00 AM »

The Greatest Show on Earth moved with three sections. An advance section would bring the advertising people to put up posters. They'd also include some performers as "teasers." The rest of the circus came in two sections - one with the tents and animals and a second with the performers.

I've read extensively about circus trains and never read of one owning it's own motive power. They'd need a minimum of three engines. Also, since the show moved to many different parts of the country the locomotives would be operating on privately owned trackage and the engines would need to meet different requirements from railroad to railroad.

If you want to see snippets of a circus train see if you can locate a video of the "Greatest Show on Earth" starring Charleton Heston and Jimmy Stewart. The outdoor shots for this film were filmed in the ACL - I guess because the Ringling Brothers Circus used to winter in Florida.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2012, 04:38:48 PM »

I guess because the Ringling Brothers Circus used to winter in Florida.

Woody-

I think they still do. The Ringling art museum is still in St. Petersburg. The circus museum, however, is in Baraboo, WI, and their train is stored (I think) in Milwaukee.
                                                                                                                                                              -- D
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Woody Elmore

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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2012, 09:40:13 AM »

I haven't been to Florida in ages and I thought that the circus moved to Wisconsin.

I remember taking my nieces to the RBB&B headquarters which I recall was in the Orlando area. It was great for little kids (of all ages.) They had kids swing on a trapeze (with a harness, of course) and showed how they started people off walking the high wire by using one that was six inches off the ground. Getting their faces made up in clown makeup was a treat for the girls.

There were several old WWII troop cars sitting on a siding - the last remnants of their train days. The whole day was very informative.

The circus now has two shows and they alternate from year to year. So if you see the "a" show this year, next year you see the "b" show.

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Doneldon

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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2012, 02:31:42 PM »

Woody-

They put on mini circuses in Baraboo and have several demonstrations going on for visitors, things like clowning and circus makeup. Our grandkids had a great time there a couple of years ago.
                                                                                                                                                     -- D
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jward


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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2012, 05:18:06 PM »

one factor not mentioned that would pre4clude private owners  from running their own locomotives on trains, especially ones that run on many different railroads like a circus train would, is cab signals and ats. there are railroads such as amtrak, certain former conrail lines, and union pacific where cab signals or ats are required in the lead locomotive. these systems are not standardized and different railroad's systems are incompatable with each other.

for example, here in pittsburgh, other railroads locomotioves cannot lead the trains on the norfolk southern mainlines east to harrisburg. the only exceptions are certain csx locomotives also equipped with the same cab signal system for use on the lines they inherited from conrail. all other roads locomotives must be in trailing positions.

in earlier times, before aar radios, most locomotives only had radios capable of transmitting on a limited number of frequencies. there are 95 aar channels, and in those days it would have been too expensive to equip a radio to transmit on all of them.

since the railroad is charging for the use of their locomotives and crews, there would be no advantage to using your own locomotives on lines where they couldn't lead.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
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railsider

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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2012, 10:06:14 PM »

I think the circus trains did much the same as many other specials going all over the country. When operating on XRR trackage, they "rent" a loco and crew fro XRR to haul over their tracks, then transfer to ZRR motive power when they move on ZRR territory.

And, several have pointed out here, the circuses were/are in the circus business, not the train business, so they didn't get involved in all the maintenance and support issues. Owning you own cars makes sense, since you can customize them for your purposes (not many railroads have a ready supply of elephant cars ready to go at a moment's notice!). But locomotives just pull whatever is coupled behind them.

Railsider
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