Project Description

Adam Forepaugh Band Chariot

This Band Chariot was built for the Adam Forepaugh Circus in the late 1880s. The earliest photo of this wagon is dated 1887.

(1893 – Conover Set # 703 – photo # BB11)

There were several changes in ownership over these years. The partnership of P.T. Barnum, James A. Bailey and James Cooper bought the Adam Forepaugh Circus in 1890. In 1891, the owners changed to the Bailey, Cooper and the Barnum Estate after P.T. Barnum’s death on April 7, 1891. In 1892 and 1893, the Adam Forepaugh Circus was owned by James A. Bailey and Joseph T. MacCaddon. In 1894, Bailey and MacCaddon added James Anderson as an owner. (1)

(1893 – Conover Set # 703 – photo # BB12)

Following its close for the last time in 1894, much of the ( Forepaugh ) equipment went over to the Buffalo Bill Wild West per the agreement between James A. Bailey and the partnership of Cody and Salisbury. A fleeting glimpse of the band chariot in a parade can be seen in the Blackhawk film No. 810-223, “Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show” an 8mm release that was put together from film clips from the 1895 to 1902 period. By 1896, this wagon had been sent over to the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The wagon remained in possession of the Barnum & Bailey Circus until they returned from their European tour in 1903. It was used in the Barnum & Bailey parades in 1903 and 1904. The Barnum & Bailey show started selling off surplus equipment. (2)

In 1909, J.H. Garrett elected to purchase a large group of surplus equipment from the Barnum & Bailey Circus which was now owned by the Ringlings since 1907. Included in this purchase was this band chariot listed with a $ 600.00 price tag, two old Tableaus, a corner statue cage, a couple of elephants and more. Not being able to come up with the last monies he owed the Ringlings in this deal, most of the equipment was taken back. This particular band chariot is then listed in a Moeller Bros. invoice in 1910 as Bandwagon retrieved from Rice Bros. It cost $36.10 to repair it for use once again. The resurrected title of the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus once again went out in 1910 and 1911 where this band chariot was used in the daily street parades.

In a catalog of surplus equipment being offered for sale by the Ringling Brothers that was published on January 10th,1912, this band chariot was listed at $350.00. This Band Chariot was sold to Fred Buchanan. He carried it on his Yankee Robinson Shows from 1906 to 1910. The wagon then went to the Wm. P. Hall circus farm in Lancaster, Missouri where it remained from 1910 to 1914. It was part of the equipment that Wm. P. Hall leased for the Barton and Bailey Circus in 1915.

There is a lack of documentation from 1916 to 1922 about this Band chariot.

In 1923, this Band Chariot was again in possession of Fred Buchanan who was using it on his World Bros. Circus. This was his No. 1 Bandwagon. In 1924, Fred Buchanan changed the name of his circus to the Robbins Bros. Circus. It was still used as a Band Chariot in 1924. In 1925, a calliope unit was installed inside the wagon.

There were several changes in ownership over these years. The partnership of P.T. Barnum, James A. Bailey and James Cooper bought the Adam Forepaugh Circus in 1890. In 1891, the owners changed to the Bailey, Cooper and the Barnum Estate after P.T. Barnum’s death on April 7, 1891. In 1892 and 1893, the Adam Forepaugh Circus was owned by James A. Bailey and Joseph T. MacCaddon. In 1894, Bailey and MacCaddon added James Anderson as an owner. (1)

(1926 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 59 – photo # 87A – Robbins Bros. Circus – old Forepaugh Steam Calliope in winter quarters – Joe Rettinger collection)

From 1925 through the 1927 season, Fred Buchanan’s Robbins Bros. Circus utilized this calliope. Beginning with the 1928 season and continuing through the final season of 1931, this wagon remained in storage at the winter quarters. According to circus historian, Joseph Bradbury, this wagon was left abandoned in the Granger, Iowa winter quarters and eventually rotted away out there.

(Joseph Bradbury Album # 59 – photo # 60C) – Robbins Bros. Circus, circa late 1920’s, Crazy Ray Choister in front of old Forepaugh Lion band Chariot, now a calliope – (Manny Gunn collection)

(1) Directory of American Circuses, 1793 to 2000 by Robert Parkinson, page 18
(2) Fielding Band Chariots by Richard Conover, pp. 32-34.