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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Mar 30

Farewell to the Circus Train

Posted on March 30, 2017 at 8:29 AM by Communications Department

An eager crowd gathered at the Lee Hall Depotcircus1_SC this past Monday to observe the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey red unit circus train en route to the Hampton Coliseum. However, this year’s event was tinged with sadness because this was its final run. After 146 years of touring, the Greatest Show on Earth is coming to a close in May.

The tailgate party, consisting of Lee Hall Train Station Foundation members, rail fans and interested citizens, included the customary noshing of popcorn and circus peanuts to pass the time. Shortly before 4 p.m., word was received that the train was just outside Williamsburg. All peered down the tracks in anticipation of the approaching locomotive’s headlights. Two engines were used to pull the heavycircus2_SC mile-long train. The crossing signal arms at Elmhurst descended to stop traffic and the train’s warning whistle blasted. First, the animals passed by in their special stock cars with side loading ramps followed by the passenger coaches with RBXX reporting marks. Riders stood outside in the foyers and waved as the crowd waved back. Last were the flatcars carrying equipment, cages, wagons and a fleet of work vehicles. Too soon the magic was over, and the train like the circus acts it bore, passed into history.


Photo Credit: Aaron M. Pritchett