The elephants plod along Pulaski highway on their last march to Baltimore's circus lot.  That was in Herring run Park the last several years.

Baltimore's Last Circus


With Ringling's Announcing That It Is Quitting The Road,

We Present Some Pictures Made On Its Spring Visit Here


Story by William Stump

This is the way it was, from dawn through sunup and on into the morning last May 22, when the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus - the Greatest show on Earth - came to Baltimore.

Three trains, totaling 80 cars, were bringing it in to a siding on North Haven street, the closest one to the lot at Herring Run park and Pulaski highway.


Baltimore was having the show's first outdoor performance of the season, after opening stands at New York and Boston indoor arenas. the circus, therefore was assembling from two directions - the troupers and some of the hands from Boston; the big top, the 40 smaller tents, and the other outdoor equipment and crew from winter quarters in Sarasota, Fla.


Even before dawn the most rabid fans were at the Haven street siding to see the arrival and unloading, and as day broke and the hour became steadily a bit more civilized these were joined by others:  boys on bicycles, truck drivers, mothers with baby carriages, old men a small police detail.


Finally the 31 cars of the Flying Squadron came in.  They were loaded with red and green vans, yellow tractors, odd-looking machinery.  With horses that were tended by young men wearing sideburns, green shirts and cowboy hats and boots.  With elephants that were slowly and patiently formed into a procession which then shuffled off down Haven street and north on the highway to the lot.

THERE, roustabouts were already running around.  The cook tent was on its way up; soon a hot meal of pork chops would be ready for the first of the 1,800 employees.  Stake-driving machines - miniature pile drivers - were pounding in stakes for the big top.  Trucks and vans continued to stream into the lot.  Men worked at spreading out the blue big top.


Tractors hauled up tent poles.  Men wrestled with canvas for the sideshow tent, driving its stakes by hand.  The boss canvas man bellowed.


"Rock, muss, buss, shape break, run along!" the roustabouts chanted as they yanked at the canvas.  Soon the tent was up, soon the tangle of ropes was secured.




Article from:

The Sunday Sun Magazine - Metrogravure - Baltimore MD,  August 5th 1956-----(Submitted by PK & AK Kolozsy)


Photograph by A. Aubrey Bodine

1-Setting up the Big Top, Parade, Ringling Sign

2-Men unloading the Red and Green Wagons

3-Crowds waiting see elephants coming of train

4-Rasing the Big Top, roustabouts spread 76,000 yards of canvas and 9 miles of rope to rig the show.

5-"Rock, muss, buss, shape, break, run along!" was the traditional chant of the roustabouts as they hauled on the ropes

and hoisted the canvas.

6-This machine and another like it drove the stakes fro the tent.  Not how the side poles have been laid out.

7-The roustabouts were helped at their tent-raising by the tractor, fitted with a frame that pushed the Big Top's canvas up from inside.

8-A close-up of the tent spreaders at work. All of the canvas used was flame proofed, and all was new at the commencement of every season.


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