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    How do I find the specific rail lines, and the railroad companies, that were used by the various circuses that traveled by train (I assume most did)? In particular, I’m interested in the period between 1890 and 1935. Thanks in advance for any pointers on where I can go to find out.
    David Stuart

 

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While a number of circus routes for wagon and rail circuses are listed on this website they do not include the railroad used nor the miles between stops. The main place you can find this specific information is on circus route cards which not only list the date, city and state, but usually the railroad and miles. Some circus route books also include the railroad used in and out of a date. Search for the Cole Bros 1916 Circus on this website and you will see where the show went that year and the route cards in my collection for the show note the railroads used. Cole Bros. World Toured Shows; ‘April 17 Ft. Smith, Ark – I.M. R.R. – 22 miles’; ‘April 24 Vinita, Ok. Frisco – 63 miles’; ‘May 15 Staunton, Ill. – Wabash – 20 miles’; ‘May 20 Harvey,Ill. – Ill. Central – 34 miles’; ‘May 26 Niles, Mich. – Mich. Cen. – 36 miles’; ‘June 7 Newberry, Mich. – D.S.S. & A. – 90 miles’; ‘June 15 Escanaba, Mich. – Soo Line – 38 miles’; ‘Aug. 20 – Miami, Ariz. – Ariz. & East – 25 miles’; ‘Aug. 24 Tombstone, Ariz. – South. Pac. – 140 miles’; ‘Aug 29 El Paso, Tx. – Texas, El Paso & SW – 72 miles’; ‘Sept. 5 Amarillo, Tx. – Rock Island – 115 miles’; ‘Sept 8 Alva, Ok. – Santa Fe, – 88 miles’; ‘Sept 11 Forgan, Ok – MK&T – 84 miles’; ‘Sept 19 Snyder, Ok – Frisco – 45 miles’; ‘Sept 23 Memphis, Tx – Ft. W & Den – 27 miles’. The Circus World Museum holds a large collection of circus route cards.

Ted Bowman Circus Route Collection.

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