An eager crowd gathered at the Lee Hall Depot
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 heavy
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