Once upon a time, there was a magical train that, for two days every July, wound its way through Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois on its way to Milwaukee.
This train had the power to evoke long-dormant memories, even as it created new ones.
It had the power to bridge generations, creating a cherished bond between young and old. That's my dad in the yellow shirt on the left in July 2000, a year before he died. He remembered his older sisters pulling him all the way up town in his little red wagon to see the circus train unload.
Older generations brought their children and grandchildren to see the brightly painted wagons, remembering bygone days, when the circus was held under the big top with live music, not in an arena filled with stale air and pre-recorded music.
They recalled the first time they saw exotic animals from far away lands.
They remembered how excited they were to watch the wagons roll into town, or see them being unloaded from trains by elephants.
Wagons depicted elaborate scenes from nursery rhymes, mythology, the Bible, as well as the Old West and countries on continents a world away. (This is one of my favorites—it is one of three Mother Goose wagons.)
People marveled at gilded and mirrored wagons designed to reflect light and dazzle an intrigued public.
There were once thousands upon thousands of circus wagons criss-crossing the United States in nearly 3,000 different circuses. Today, only a few hundred wagons survive.
A collection of 210 original wagons and vehicles are housed at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin—the former home of the Ringling Brothers Circus (1884-1918). The Ringling Bros. purchased the Barnum & Bailey Show in 1907 and merged the two in 1919. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is the largest surviving circus company in America.
The site also houses a large reference museum and collection of circus memorabilia that includes photos, journals, business records and more than 9,000 original circus posters.
During the summer season, there are daily performances that include acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, magic shows, and more.
I hope you have enjoyed your journey with the Circus Train today. Please let me know if you would like to see more!
(Please leave your link if this is your first visit!)
Darla M Sands * Colleen * Alice Audrey * Shelley Munro
CountryDew * Adelle Laudan * Janice Seagraves
Inez Kelley * Robin L Rotham * Sasha Devlin
Tatiana Caldwell * Paige Tyler * Harriet * Janet * Kristen
Jennifer McKenzie * KS Manning * Elise Logan
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