And so it ends, after 146 years of traveling the world bringing entertainment wherever they went, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus took its last bow Sunday night. Their final show ever was for a sold-out crowd in New York. You can watch the entire Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance on YouTube if you like.

Over the years, the name of the company has gone through changes that reflect their history. Barnum & Bailey was combined with Ringling Brothers in 1919. The name Barnum & Bailey dates back to 1881 when it was formed from two other circuses.

But nothing lasts forever, and with well deserved concern for the animals along with changing times and the introduction of technology, the circus could no longer compete. But in it’s day, it ruled. It was a huge deal, when the circus came to town.

Seen above, in a visit to Cheyenne, there was the time back around 1933 that Edna Fish photographed the circus animals making the two mile trek up Snyder Avenue from the Union Pacific yards to Frontier Park where the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus was set up.

From The Wyoming State Archives, labeled as from August 5, 1951 “Elephants of Ringling Circus on way to grounds at Frontier Park at Snyder Avenue and 30th.

Photo courtesy of the Edna Collection, Wyoming State Archives
Photo courtesy of the Edna Collection, Wyoming State Archives


Back in the day, a simpler time, the circus brought magic, exotic animals, mysteries and wonders from a large world that most would never see. And then, there were clowns. Not my personal favorite. But the peanuts and cotton candy were great. It was the circus, "The Greatest Show On Earth!"

But, it's time has come and gone, and now, it is entirely in the past, existing only in fading memories and photographs.

In what was likely the last time they rolled through Cheyenne, back in 2010, they literally rolled through Cheyenne.


In watching this video, I couldn't help but think about the lives of those who joined and traveled with the circus. What a strange lifestyle that may have been.

But what really got me thinking, was the animals inside these train cars. They were captured, confined, trained and handled in ways I shudder to think about. These animals were totally out of their element. I will keep it simple. It was time for this show to retire. It was an era now gone.

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