Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train passes through SLO


The rumor spread quickly: The circus was coming to town!

More specifically, a circus train. Not just belonging to any circus, but the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — the Greatest Show on Earth. The performers, animals and rest of the cast were on a train heading up the coast and would reportedly make a special stop at the station in San Luis Obispo. Maybe the elephants would be led out of their train car for a walk and water. Or so spread the story.

Expected arrival was 3 p.m. But that came and went — and then more time slipped by.

Finally, at 7 p.m., the initial crowd having dwindled to just a couple dozen, a train horn blared, and the silver cars of Barnum & Bailey came into view. People clapped with anticipation.

The engine pulling the long procession went past the station and kept going. Viewers on the Jennifer Street Bridge, armed with cameras, waited for the train to stop and hoped to get a glimpse of a tiger, or a thin man, or a flame eater.

But as quickly as it arrived, the circus rolled on by, and a train horn sounded, signalling there’d be no stop today.