Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/85

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61
MOVING THE BIG SHOW

THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO MOVE A CIRCUS BY RAIL

A few weeks before the time for opening the circus season the horses are taken in, stabled, groomed and fed with grain to get them “hard” and in good condition for work. The wagons are overhauled, painted and gilded, and, if necessary, new ones are built. The various agents are by this time hard at work, each having his particular duties to perform.

Previous to 1872 the “railroad circus” was an unknown quantity. Like all other circuses of that day, the big show of which I was the manager traveled by wagon. During our first season our receipts amounted in round numbers to $400,000, exclusive of side shows, concerts and candy stands. Of course we showed in towns of all sizes and our daily receipts ranged from $1,000 to $7,000. Finding that the receipts in the larger towns were frequently twice and three times as much as in the smaller ones, I became convinced that we could at least double our receipts if we could ignore the small places and travel only from one big town to another, thereby drawing the cream of the trade from the adjacent small towns instead of trying to give a separate exhibition in each. This was my reason for