Historical figures in the banner are (L-R):  Rev. Jesse Knight, Frank Higel, Bertha Honoré Palmer, Dr. Fred Albee, John Nolen


Historical figures in the banner above are (L-R): 

Rev. Jesse Knight, Frank Higel, Bertha Honoré Palmer, Dr. Fred Albee, John Nolen

Circus Train Car

The circus train car described on this site arrived at the Historic Venice Depot on January 28, 2021.  The interior displays will be installed over the next several months.  We anticipate opening the train car to the public in Fall 2021.  Thank you to all supporters!


Watch a 19-minute video of the Circus Train Car move to the Depot by clicking here.


                  Circus Train Car Update

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus wintered in Venice, Florida between 1960 and 1992.  With the help of numerous donors from the Venice area and around the nation, VAHS brought a retired circus train car to the Historic Venice Depot Campus.  VAHS 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.  Originally 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 Woman’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 is currently at the Venice Train Depot next to the caboose. The car is not open for tours at this time. Interior exhibits will be finalized over the next several months with an anticipated opening in Fall 2021. The exhibits will illustrate how Ringling performers lived on the circus train, and they will describe the many innovations that took place in the Ringling Bros. Circus during the Venice years.  Venice’s circus legacy will also be celebrated.

Having a retired Ringling Bros. 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:

Venice Area Historical Society

Circus Train Car Project

PO Box 995

Venice, FL  34284-0995

Thank you for helping to preserve Venice's circus heritage!

                                                                  


VAHS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit 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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