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 arrived at the Historic Venice Depot on January 28, 2021.  Check the calendar for tour dates and times. Thank you to all supporters!

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

Pictures of the circus car's move from the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish, FL; renovation in Venice; and its final move to the Historic Venice Train Depot.

Installation of last wheel truck (Photo: George Miller) January 2021
Car being pulled over ditch and across Legacy Trail (Photo: Mary Huba) January 2021
Wheel trucks being moved into place on tracks (Photo: George Miller) January 2021
View from Venice Ave. Bridge (Photo: Jennifer Holland) January 2021
Under Venice Ave. Bridge (Photo: Dick Smith) January 2021
Heading west in east-bound lane of W. Venice Ave. (Photo: Dick Smith) January 2021
Temporarily removing sign, allowing car to proceed (Photo: Sarah Miller) January 2021
Turning into the east-bound lane of W. Venice Ave. (Photo: George Miller) January 2021
Heading north on Seaboard Ave. (Photo: George Miller) January 2021
Venice Community Resource Officer helping to ensure safety of move (Photo: Carol Marie Davis) January 2021
Heading west on Spur Street (Photo: Jennifer Holland) January 2021
Pulling out of Uniglide Trailer Company (Photo: Jennifer Holland) January 2021
Application of the decal has begun. January 7, 2021
Interior January 6, 2021.
Interior January 6, 2021.
RAM Marine working on new electrical service line for the Circus Car. Late December 2020.
Window Inserts have been installed. Displays will be mounted on these inserts, as well as the walls around them. December 18, 2020
Car Interior with Track Lighting-December 2020
One end of Car November 23, 2020
Future Visitor Entrance Door in Center of Side of Car November 23, 2020
Future Visitor Entrance Door (Propped open at center of side of car) November 23, 2020
Entrance door is being prepped for end of car. October 5, 2020
Sheetrock is being plastered. October 5, 2020
Sheetrock is being plastered. October 5, 2020
Sheetrock is being plastered. October 5, 2020
Sheetrock is being plastered. October 5, 2020
Visitor's Entrance door is installed. October 5, 2020
Sheetrock installation continues. September 29, 2020.
Windows have been cut out of the sheetrock September 29, 2020.
Sheetrocking continues. Windows cutouts are complete. September 29, 2020.
Sheetrock is being installed on the walls September 25, 2020.
Interior walls September 15, 2020.
Sheetrock is being installed on the walls September 25, 2020.
Plywood Wall in Performer Room-September 2020.
Plywood in Central Exhibit Area-September 2020.
Performer room-September 2020.
Plywood walls in performer room-September 2020.
Plywood Installed on Walls September 2020
Curved Ceiling Installed-September 2020
Curved Central Ceiling installation begins. August 2020
Tim Wisgerhof, Venice Theatre Resident Scenic Designer and Mary Huba, Circus Car project co-manager meet to discuss interior display. August 2020
Electrical work begins on Depot Campus in preparation of moving Train Car. August 2020
Final Insulation-July 2020
Workers from Royal Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. installing air conditioning. June 2020
Work continues on the interior June 2020
March 2020. Ceiling insulation and thermal barrier over performers' rooms has been completed.
Train Car Interior-March 2020
Interior-February 2020
November 2019-Wheel trucks primed and ready for final coat of paint.
October 2019-Side 2; painting is completed; windows installed.
October 2019-Side 1; painting completed; windows and Dutch door installed.
September 2019-Royal Air Conditioning and Heating has begun to mount HVAC equipment.
September 2019-The exterior repair and painting are virtually complete, with only a final coat of paint and a clear coat remaining to be applied on one side of the car.
June 2019 End 2 of Circus Train Car
June 2019 End 1 of Circus Train Car
Side 1 as of May 2019.
VAHS is grateful to master craftsman Bill Dovel for creating a scale model of the Venice Circus Arena to be displayed in the Circus Train Car.
The vinyl covering on the steel roof was replaced with two layers of vinyl providing a 10-year warranty. The underlying steel roof was found to be in excellent condition.
Side 1 before renovations.
Side 1 as of November 2018.
Side 2 before renovations.
Side 2 as of November 2018.
Corner detail before renovations.
Corner detail as of November 2018.
Short Leaf Pine in early morning fog before move to Venice on 12/22/16.
Car is raised with jacks, and orange metal girders and wheeled dollies are placed under it.
Each dolly has eight wheels.
Car is prepared for departure.
Front-loader pulls the car onto the road.
The car is connected to the Johnson & Sons cab with counter-weight behind it.
Before departure, Johnson & Sons employees secure air brakes and electrical connections for brake lights.
The Short Leaf Pine departs for Venice under bright sunny skies.
On the road!
Traveling through Parrish, Florida.
The car straddles Spur Avenue in Venice before being pulled into the yard of Uni-Glide Trailer Company.
The journey is complete.
VAHS members celebrate the arrival of the Train Car.
Johnson & Sons employees lift the car with jacks and prepare to remove dollies.
The dollies are pulled out from underneath the car.
The car will rest on these supports while it is being refurbished at Uniglide Trailer Company.

                  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. Check the calendar for tour dates and times. The exhibits illustrate how Ringling performers lived on the circus train and describe the many innovations that took place in the Ringling Bros. Circus during the Venice years.  Venice’s circus legacy is also 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.

The Society now leases all historic assets on the Depot campus.  It needs funds to provide ongoing maintenance of the interior and exterior of both the caboose and circus car, a requirement of its lease agreement with Sarasota County.  All donations, both large and small, are important in helping VAHS.  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!



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