Project Description

Cole Bros. Air Calliope No. 82

This wagon was built around 1915 for the Fred Buchanan owned Yankee Robinson Circus. It carried an air calliope. It stayed on this show through his final season of 1920, when he sold it all the circus dealer, Wm. P. Hall of Lancaster, Missouri. After getting out of the business for a year or two, Buchanan returned to the Hall farm to buy a circus again. This wagon went with him for his 1923 edition he called World Bros. Circus. In 1924 he again changed the name to Robbins Bros. Circus.

(1927 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 2, photo # 8F – Robbins Bros. Circus – P.M. McClintock collection)

He returned every winter to his Granger, Iowa winter quarters through the end of 1931 when the circus all went back to Wm. P. Hall once again. Here the wagon sat for almost four years before Jess Adkins and Zack Terrell bought much of the former Robbins Bros. Circus, including this wagon, for their newly formed Cole Bros. Circus.

(1934 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 59, photo # 65A – Wm. P. Hall farm in Lancaster, MO, – Wm.Woodcock photo)

The wagon was reconfigured with the pipes removed from the sides and a beautifully carved Skyboard added on the top. It was used on the Cole bros. Circus and then on their second unit in 1938 that they called the Robbins Bros. Circus.

(1937 – Conover set # 495 – photo # 6008)

Following the winter quarters fire in February of 1940 in Rochester, IN., the show moved to the Louisville, KY. fairgrounds. A lot of older equipment was taken outside of Rochester to what is now called the Bradley farm. The wagon simply was rotting away here. When it was “re-discovered” in 1950, it was on the ground with no wheels under it being used as a coal bin.

(1950 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 15, photo # 55A – June 1950 at the Bradley farm in Rochester, IN.)

The Air calliope unit was long gone. In 1965, Robert Bradley donated what was left of it to the Circus World Museum. As one can imagine it was only good for a few measurements at best. The wagon was rebuilt from the ground up and decorated to represent it’s appearance on the Cole Bros. Circus in 1937.

(2015 – Dave Lorbeske photo)

There is currently a vintage Tangley Air Calliope in it. The wagon is 10’9″ long x 6’6″ wide x 10′ 2″ tall. It weighs 3,040 pounds.

The wagon can be seen in person at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin