Circus Train Car

Circus Train Car Update

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus wintered in Venice, Florida between 1960 and 1991.  With the help of numerous donors from the Venice area and around the nation, VAHS will bring a retired circus train car to the Historic Venice Depot Campus.  VAHS has found an ideal car, built by Pullman Standard and once owned by Ringling, at the Florida Railroad Museum (FRRM).  The Society has raised the funds to purchase it, restore and reconfigure it, and prepare the Depot site to receive it.  Called the Short Leaf Pine, the 85-foot long rail car had its last brake check in Venice in 1993.

Thank you to:

  • The Kathleen K. Catlin Foundation at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for awarding $72,000 to the project 
  • The Gulf Coast Community Foundation for the $37,000 Leveraged Grant
  • Julia Cousins Laning for her extraordinary generosity in donating $42,000
  • The Tom E. Dailey Foundation of Chicago, Illinois for the $5,000 Railroad Heritage Grant
  • The Venice-Nokomis Women’s Club for raising $6,200
  • Bill Jervey, Barbara and Dick Smith, and Tom Deupree for their challenge grants, and All donors who have given to the project!

The car was recently purchased and moved from FRRM to the Uni-Glide Trailer Company in Venice by Johnson & Sons House Moving.   Uni-Glide will refurbish the exterior and reconfigure the interior at the company’s site at the corner of Seaboard and Spur Avenues.  The work on the car will take approximately nine months.  Once the car has been moved to the Venice Train Depot, interior exhibits will be finalized.  They will illustrate how Ringling performers lived while in Venice and on the rails, and they will describe the many interrelationships between Venice and the circus, both locally and nationally.

Having a retired Ringling Brothers car that was actually used in Venice is the ideal fulfillment of the original vision and plan for the Historic Venice Train Depot.  VAHS is proud to play a part in the vision.

Fundraising continues for the development of interior educational exhibits.  If you haven’t donated yet, please jump on board.  All donations, both large and small, are important in helping VAHS complete the project.  Please send checks, made out to VAHS, to:

Circus Train Car Project, Caldwell Trust Company, 1400 Center Road, Venice, FL 34293.

Thank you for helping to preserve the Venice Depot’s circus train heritage! 


VAHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and has registered with the State of Florida to solicit contributions.  A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES AT WWW.800HELPFLA.COM OR BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN (800-435-7352) OR OUTSIDE (850-410-3800) FLORIDA.  REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.” Ch 32089

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