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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Ringling Bros. Red unit deadheads home, Blue unit prepares for disposition NEWSWIRE

Ringling Bros. Red unit deadheads home, Blue unit prepares for disposition NEWSWIRE

By Chase Gunnoe | May 12, 2017

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Prior to departing Charleston, W.Va., on May 8, every car of the Ringling Bros. ‘Blue’ unit was switched in order of its upcoming setoff for disposition to private owners. Similar to the Red Unit, many of the Blue Unit cars will be setoff in Oak Island, N.J., after a series of performances end in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21. During this May 7 view, it was the first time many of the Blue Unit passenger cars had been uncoupled in years.
Chase Gunnoe
One of the last photos of the Ringling Bros. ‘Red Unit’ fully intact was captured early Wednesday morning near Bear Mountain, N.Y. The train was headed to Oak Island, N.J., where the consist would be separated before a deadhead move continued south to Florida.
Kevin Burkholder
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Just four days after the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme tour took its final bow to sold out crowds in Providence, R.I., the Red Unit’s rail equipment is now headed either to its new private owners or for disposition in Palmetto, Fla.

In a special move handled by CSX Transportation on May 10, a total of four remaining passenger cars and 19 flatcars of circus wagons, vehicles, and other supplies headed for Feld Entertainment’s corporate headquarters near Palmetto for disposition. On Thursday afternoon, the train was passing through Wilson, N.C., on its way south.

The rest of the equipment, including about 30 passenger cars, were set out in Oak Island, N.J., for transport to private owners in the Northeast. Passenger rail operators, museums, and tourist railroads purchased the passenger cars at auction in April.

Meanwhile in Uniondale, N.Y., on Long Island, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Out of this World tour was preparing for its final series of shows ever. Its rail equipment, which remains intact this week, will be emptied and sent off for disposition upon the conclusion of the final performances on Sunday, May 21. Similar to its sister unit, the Blue unit train will make a similar deadhead move to Florida in late May consisting of unclaimed rail equipment.

Sources familiar with the matter tell Trains News Wire the flat cars and other unclaimed equipment used to store circus equipment will likely be scrapped after arriving in Florida. According to the source, the flat cars were nearing the end of their useful life and would likely be scrapped by early summer. The company operates approximately 40 flat cars.

A final routing for the Blue unit deadhead move has not been released.

25 thoughts on “Ringling Bros. Red unit deadheads home, Blue unit prepares for disposition NEWSWIRE

  1. Mr. Dyer and Mr. House: The circus had failing attendance because its main draw, the elephants, had been eliminated to appease animal rights advocates. That is fact. As someone stated: “hundreds of jobs were lost to “save” a few well cared for elephants. And that is a shame.

  2. This is the first time I would agree with Mr. Norton, the one and only reason that attendance was down and the circus was losing money is because Field cowed down to PETA about how they treated the elephants(and it would eventually had led to other animals as well)…that is the reason, they could have thought of selling it off the someone who might have had the balls the stand up to PETA and brought the elephants back, but then that would have made it seem like Field was weak.

  3. Disregarding the “hot button” topic as to PETA and alleged animal abuses, the reality is that the loss of the elephants was only one of many factors that led to the decline of the RBBB Circus and other smaller circuses. The decline had been under way ever since television invaded homes, to be blunt about it. I work with several professional entertainers such as magicians and musicians, and the reality is that it’s become almost impossible to entertain and enthrall children in an era when even an elementary school kid has a smartphone or his own tablet and is used to the most imaginative animation and CGI available, on a budget that allows an admission that is still “affordable” to families.

  4. The end of a great era in entertainment. Very sad that a vocal few can bring down a great institution.

  5. Sadly, the “vocal few” are working hard at destroying many great institutions, and seeing to it that no new ones are built—-anywhere!

  6. Let history record that the animal “rights” wackos brought down this time honored American institution.

  7. Let history record that the circus came to an end because its owners were losing money. Sad, but that’s truly the bottom line. It’s always sad to see a time-honored institution die, but attributing it solely to animal rights people fails to address the fact that the owners pulled the plug due to declining attendance and revenue.

  8. Thank you Mr. House. Mr. Norton has a difficult time commenting on this site without letting his politics show through. The fact is that if you can’t be kind to an animal, particularly one that is thousands of miles from its natural habitat, you probably aren’t kind to any living creature. There are no animals in this world that are not intelligent enough to know when they are being mistreated. My dog told me so.

  9. I think Norforlk & Southern,s 611 steam engine should pull the train back to Florida as a final tribute to the greatest show on earth , Maybe the higher ups at Norforlk & Southern and C S X could do something to make this happen , Can,t think of anything better that would have people line the tracks to say GOOD BUY

  10. Love the idea Paul Dolhy. Everyone should make it a point to visit any of the remaining circus’ that travel the country, when they’re gone they’re gone.

  11. That PETA and their sympathizers could help bring an end to the Greatest Show On Earth suggests that the rail industry ought to keep an eye out for other emerging “movements” arising from the social justice crowd and anti-capitalists. One fledgling movement that comes immediately to mind is the budding notion of electrifying railroad lines in the Pacific Northwest. That concept, if ever implemented, would eventually lead to route closures; traffic concentration; revolts from NIMBYs and NOPEs; years of litigation; expanded government regulation and oversight; and extensive costs to shippers.

  12. The only constant is change. The final wrap of The Greatest Show On Earth is a sad event. However, it also reminds us of the historic treasures contained in our railroad photo collections. I was driving in southwest Alabama yesterday, where the now-removed tracks of the Alabama, Tennessee & Northern (ATN) once handled two or three daily freight trains. Two days spent chasing BN operations on that route in the mid-1990s, while a bit of a hassle then, have resulted in treasured images today. Ditto for chasing the Tennessee Central’s Crab Orchard Local in 1968…and the TC’s Lebanon (TN) Switcher a few days later. The message is clear — shoot today, you’re saving history.

  13. It is notable that the freight rolling stock was very near the end of it’s servicable life. With the circus no longer covering it’s entire cost, replacing outdated railroad equipment was a cost they could no longer bear.

  14. I don’t know all the reasons that brought it down. I know I and many others like me who have childhood memories of the greatest show on earth will miss knowing it no longer exists, and that future generations will never be exposed to what I saw and felt and enjoyed. What an era we were blessed with!

  15. Yes, PAUL DOLHY, It would be fitting to pull the last train by steam. Just the way I’m sure the first train must have, as it started long before any diesel was even built. Too bad it’s too late for the last revenue run, which would have been even more fitting. Unless someone already has this plan in the works, I suspect it’s too late to do anything about it now, but if at all possible, is there anyone out there that could still make it happen?


  16. And to the issue of what caused the end, Yes, the lack of elephants certainly helped, competition with cheap electronic entertainment played a role I’m sure, and there were no doubt other factors. But having actually gone to see one of the last shows in Charleston, WV, I think there was another factor. The circus isn’t what it used to be. It was an excellent show, very professional, entertaining, thrilling, and pretty much non stop action. The lights and sound were spot on, and it was nearly full depsite the local airport being closed due to a plane crash that no doubt caused some to miss the show (the woman sitting next to my family said they almost missed the show because of that. Meanwhile the Friday’s Cardinals were both basically on schedule.)

    At any rate, there was no opportunity to get up close with any of the circus performance, only from the stands. The clowns weren’t all that funny, there was no juggling, no human cannon despite one being advertised on a TV commercial for the Charleston show, and a story line of a good vs. bad circus master seeking out the universe’s best circus performers was weaved into the show, which in my opinion didn’t really add anything of interest to the show and instead distracted from it, as well as consuming time that could have been spent on more exciting circus stunts. It was an attempt at making a circus with an inter-planetory and outer space theme that just didn’t seem to work. I think they could have done much better.

    I know this isn’t directly train related, but the fact that this circus is now in its final death throes, and I believe in part for the reasons I stated, means of course the death of one of our most beloved trains.

    Will anyone fill the gap? Putting together something that grand would mean at this point startng almost from scratch. We’d need another PT Barnum.

  17. This reminds me of an outfit called Circus Vargas that still tries to emulate the days of the Big Top. The review in the local newspaper went something like “lazy clowns that elicited few laughs and a tired animal show that would have embarrassed a cheap carnival”. Obviously RBBB was significantly better yet it seems that circuses have seen their day, social activists or not. As a child I had no desire to see one and as an adult I thought they were overpriced. A close co-worker took her two nephews to see RBBB a decade plus ago. Their chief memory as adults was when the elephants cut loose with “something extra” during a twirling dance. Speaks volumes…

  18. Mr. Mitchell or what is your name is, having years of working with Ringling and having engineered the circus train when it was here in Rochester PETA actions were the golden spike in the Dracula death of the circus. Stew in your killer broth and all those that join in demonstrators that were so scary to our grandkids when we took them to their dream. You and your like rise and whine.

  19. Actually, every time the circus train came to Long Island, the cars are split near the Nassau Coliseum.

  20. I am sorry to see the circus go, did see the trains a few times on the CSX Monon line before it all ended. That said, I read these posts for rail related information and comments. If I wanted right wing hot air I would turn on the radio and get it there. Not everyone who reads these posts is a fan of that stuff.

  21. It sounds as if most of the passenger cars have found new owners. Someone had doubted the possibility of that because car interiors were more like apartments with none of the original furnishings. However, the expensive part isn’t the interior; it’s the mechanics and these cars were reported to be in excellent mechanical condition. I’m glad to know they have new homes.

  22. While we are on the subject of PETA and those politically correct envirnomentalists, better enjoy and get those pictures in of steam led excursions and steam locomotive fantrips. that too will go out some day since the smoke and fumes from steam locomotives are polluting the air and endangering everybody’s health. It is strange but how come PETA doesn’t complain when a race horse has to be destroyed when it breaks a leg or a tendon or how about the rodeo where animals are made to do stupid and cruel tricks and feats like roping and bulldogging. While we are at it how about the dog shows where dogs are made to walk around in circles, have their paws and body coats shaved off and made to do tricks and other silly things that a dog wouldn’t do naturally. But its a society where certain groups and individuals have a secret agenda and a grudge and ax to grind.

    Joseph C Markfelder

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