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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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Thanks very much!

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Recently, a cooperative research project involving the Milner Library at ILSTU, the Ringling Museum in Sarasota and Circus World in Baraboo created a searchable archive of circus route books.  Many of these books contained railroad information in their listing of the daily moves of the shows.  You can now access information from all three major circus libraries online.

https://library.illinoisstate.edu/collections/step-right-up/

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Every several weeks circuses issued “route cards” that contained, usually, two to four weeks listing of the towns to be played, the distance from one to the next, and the railroads over which they traveled. Far and away the best collection of such cards is at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI. At the end of a season, some shows issued a sheet with such information for the entire season; occasionally, a show might publish a book covering the entire season with this and other information such as a staff listing, daily diary, photos, etc. Some years ago (1970s-80s) while working at the Baraboo museum, I remember an Adkins descendent visiting the museum’s library.

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