Circus Trains

When the Circus traveled by train there was a whole procedure that surrounded the upcoming event. Promotion was an important part to get the word about the “Circus coming to Town” so each phase was designed to get the excitement level high so everyone would be talking about the Circus.  Here is the order of how and why this was done.

The Advertising Car

Circus Train Advertising CarAbout a month before the start date in your town, the advertising car would arrive and be placed on a siding in town.  It usually would be an old retired diner from one of the railroads that would be colorfully repainted and converted for Circus use.  Inside they would make all the handbills and posters to place all around town. 

This car also served as the advertising crew’s home.  The posters were pasted all over buildings, poles and just about anything else, for people to see the date the “Circus is coming to town” and the dates of the actual Circus.

The day the Circus Train came to town, the cars would be all placed in a railroad yard to be unloaded.  This was done by horses and became a show in itself.  Each Circus Wagon had its own cargo and design.  They would generally be quite artistic and colorful to enhance the next step to set up the Circus; The Parade!

The Parade

Circus ParadeAs the Circus Grounds were not right next to the railroad yard, another promotional tool would be used, the Circus Parade.  Each wagon would be hooked up to a team of horses; some wagons might even contain a steam organ or carry a band.  When the Parade started, the whole town would line up along the streets and they would follow the Circus to the Grounds. 

We also feature a Circus Parade of our own down Main Street Mattlin including circus music, clowns, horse drawn wagons, and elephants.

This was a grand event and was often joined by local participants as well.  By now everyone within 50 miles knew the Circus was in town.

Once at the Circus Grounds the work to set up would start.  The circus traveled with all the people and animals needed to set up, staff, and take down the entire show.  Each had their own duties and soon they were ready for the SHOW. 

The Museum’s Display

Circus TrainWe will have on display many items depicting the Circus Train and activities.  And like the real thing we will even have an Advertising Car in our train. This all builds up to the day when the Circus Train will arrive and operate at our Museum. 

This O-Scale train is mostly scratch or kit built.  O-Scale is ¼” = one foot, so a model of a real 80-foot car would be 20 inches long. Our Circus Train consists of 4 animal cars, 7 performer cars, and 14 special flat cars, each loaded with four colorful hand made circus wagons. 

Some of these hand made wagons have a cage for wild animals while others have storybook sides.  Many of them are modeled after real wagons that can be found at The Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Each is hand built and painted with attention to every detail.  The entire colorful train with locomotive is over 50 feet long. 

We will have additional displays, videos, and a Parade down the streets of Mattlin on our railroad. Great family entertainment!

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