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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / North Carolina sells last of former Ringling Bros. cars

North Carolina sells last of former Ringling Bros. cars

By | November 29, 2022

Final three cars bought at auction will be scrapped

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Remains of railcars severely damaged by fire
Remains of railcars severely damaged by fire
Four former Ringling Bros. circus railcars were destroyed in a March fire in North Carolina. Those cars were scrapped. Only two of the nine cars bought by the North Carolina Department of Transportation will survive. Nash County Sheriff’s Department

RALEIGH, N.C. — Just two of the nine cars from the Ringling Bros. circus train bought by the North Carolina Department of Transportation will survive after the state auctioned off the remaining equipment, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Four of the cars were badly damaged by a fire in March and had to be scrapped [see “Former Ringling Bros. railcars burn …,” Trains News Wire, March 10, 2022]. Two more were sold to tourist-train operators in May for a total of $26,301.

That left three cars placed up for auction this fall. They have now been bought for a total of $28,750 by a company which intends to scrap them, according to an NCDOT spokeswoman.

The state DOT bought the cars — eight which had been used as dormitories for performers on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train, and one baggage car — when the circus shut down in 2017, planning to rebuild them for its equipment fleet for state-supported Piedmont Amtrak service. St. Louis Car Co., which built the Ringling Bros. cars, also built some of the current Piedmont cars.

But the state ultimately chose to order new equipment with the help of federal grants, rendering the circus surplus and leading to the auctions.

10 thoughts on “North Carolina sells last of former Ringling Bros. cars

  1. The fire was considered arson but there have been no arrests. The cars were insured and the NCDOT has recouped their money on the lost cars. For the ones they sold however, they took a loss on those but were happy just to get rid of them. I read an article not long ago but I can’t find it now on the equipment that they have on order. They came out much better in the long run. I don’t live too far from where these cars were stored.

  2. North Carolina Department of Transportation paid $383,000 for the circus cars shortly after Ringling Bros. held its last performance in 2017.

    $26k and $28k for what they were able to sell.

    That leaves what ever insurance paid out on the 4 that were destroyed.

    I would guess that (if they had been insured, not likely) they would have paid out for their scrap value of $25k each, so about $100k.

    $383k minus the $155k in return nets a loss of $228k, plus or minus some depreciation.

    1. At least 2 survive were in Scranton now in Port Jervis New York owned by the “Dining Car Society”, A Dormitory car and a horse transport car

  3. What’s the new equipment they ordered? I don’t see anything on what kind of new equipment they ordered, like how many cars or what design.

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