Behind the Scenes of Typical Truck Circus, Downie Bros. Circus, 1932


This behind-the-scenes image is typical of a “truck show” in the American circus. With the growth of the trucking industry in the United States after World War I, many small circuses could easily mount their wagons and equipment on the back of trucks and travel across the country, reaching countless smaller communities previously inaccessible by circuses operating strictly from railroads. In this image, three women rest under a fly tent attached to the back of a painted truck of the Downie Bros. Circus. The circus was owned by Andrew Downie McPhee (1863−1930), who pioneered the truck circus. His show was transported on 38 trucks, five trailers, three tractors, and three advance trucks. All baggage trucks were painted red with gold and silver trim.

Date Created

Subject Date


Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass-plate negative


  1. Chang Reynolds, “Downie Bros. Wild Animal Circus,” Bandwagon, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan-Feb), 1963,

Last updated: March 21, 2014