We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Circus Train?

By Alan Rankin
Updated Jan 30, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A circus train is a specialized train for transporting workers, equipment, and livestock. In the 1800s, traveling circuses began using the rail network to move their shows from one community to the next. Since that time, the circus train has become a colorful and iconic image of the circus world. In the 21st century, some circuses still use the brilliantly arrayed trains for transport. These trains have captured the popular imagination and often appear in movies and other portrayals of circus life.

Circuses and carnivals have been performing in Europe and America since the 18th century. Shortly after the transcontinental railroad across the United States was completed in 1869, circuses began employing rail for their traveling shows. Early train cars turned out to be ill-suited for the specialized needs of the circus, so the larger companies began building their own cars. These included flatcars that could hold cages and wagons, as well as sleeper cars that provided rolling homes for circus personnel. Similar designs are used for the circus trains of modern times.

Rail companies charged circuses by the car, not by weight or length. For this reason, it was more economical to have fewer, larger cars. The circus train includes some of the longest cars on the rails, up to 26 meters (85 feet) in length. In addition to the flatcars and sleepers, specialized cars carry elephants, lions, and other livestock in relative comfort. These are known in rail and circus parlance as stock cars.

The circus train has become such a popular feature of circuses that it has its own fan following. Trainspotters in the United States keep track of the progress of circus trains and alert fellow fans through websites. The Ringling Brothers Circus has two trains, the red unit and the blue unit, which transport the circus around the country on alternate years. Another popular circus train travels up and down the East Coast of the U.S. This mile-long train visits 16 locations during its seven-month circuit and is observed by many delighted fans along the way.

Films and media about the circus often include images of the circus train. Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 epic The Greatest Show on Earth includes a circus train crash, a disaster that was all too real in the early days of circus trains. The third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s Last Crusade, opens with a battle aboard a running circus train. Like many directors, Steven Spielberg found the specialized train to be a unique spectacle, a perfect setting for the adventures of his daredevil hero.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.