Cole Bros. Circus


This 1935 image presents a scene from a typical moderate-sized 20th-century American circus. A crowd watches as baggage wagons from the Cole Bros. Circus are being pulled over flatcars. The railcars are marked Clyde Beatty and Allen King, who were two of the more notable animal trainers of the period. Behind the flatcars are stock cars that held elephants and baggage horses. This scene was repeated daily, morning and night, in railroad yards in communities across the United States. Cole Bros. Circus was established in 1884 by William Washington Cole (1847–1915) as “W.W. Cole’s New Colossal Shows.” 1935 was the first season in which the legendary Beatty was associated with the Cole Bros. Circus. At that time, the circus was transported on 35 double-length railroad cars, and featured a giant street parade from the railroad yards to the circus grounds. Towns and cities visited by the Cole Bros. Circus in 1935 included Benton Harbor, Michigan; Marietta, Ohio; Falls City, Nebraska; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Last updated: December 14, 2012