Cambridge, October 2014

circus

the red train (sonya kovacic)

the red train (sonya kovacic)

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, formed in 1919, has three distinct tours (red, blue, and gold) that travel the United States by train 11 months of the year, stopping at more than 90 cities and carrying animals, circus performers, and gear.

P.T Barnum, the eccentric promoter and co founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, has unique ties to Boston. At one point he was involved in the Boston Aquarial Gardens, one of the first aquariums in the United States, and as a trustee and benefactor of Tufts University, is responsible for Jumbo the elephant becoming the university's mascot.

According to Tufts University's website, P.T Barnum, donated Jumbo's stuffed hide to Tufts after he was killed by a train in Canada. Jumbo's hide was put on display in the Barnum Museum of Natural History (now Barnum Hall) and was eventually adopted as the university's mascot.

After a fire in 1975 burned down Barnum Hall and Jumbo inside, only the tail and ashes were left. The ashes were collected in an empty peanut butter jar and to this day athletes rub the jar for good luck and there is a ceremonial passing of the ashes with each new athletic director.


Look into circus posters from the boston public library