Monday, June 4, 2012

Circus Wagon History--Elephant Tab Update

Elephant Tableau Wagon, Al G. Barnes Circus, About 1922

The elephant carvings from the Al G. Barnes wagon were on the gates of Jungleland and Louis Goebel, owner of Jungleland, donated them to Circus World. The wagon shop built the wagon mentioned by Steve Flint.
I am attaching an article written by Joseph Bradbury in 1957 about this wagon which gives some history which you might find of interest. John
Al G. Barnes Circus Elephant Tableau Wagon

By Joseph T. Bradbury. Bandwagon, Vol. 1, No. 6 (Dec), 1957, p. 5.  [edited] 

We commonly call this wagon the "Al G. Barnes Elephant Tableau". It was built in the Al G. Barnes winter quarters in Venice, California in the winter of 1920-21 and first appeared on the Barnes show in the 1921 season. The Bode Wagon Works furnished the carvings for this and other Barnes wagons about the some time, but the actual construction of the wagon and the placing on of the carvings was done by the Barnes blacksmith and woodworking crew.

The wagon served on the Barnes show for the 1921, 1922, 1923, and 1924 seasons for sure and possibly longer. The Barnes show quit parading in mid-season 1924, the last parade being given July 14, at Denver. No parades were given in 1925 and following years. Some claim they saw it on the show as late as 1928, . Therefore there is a possibility that the wagon may have been carried in the years 1925-28, but I have not seen it in any photos of the show in those years. I have good coverage of the 1928 show in photos and the wagon is not present. It is my opinion, and only an opinion, but 1924 may well have been the last year on the show for the wagon.

After Al G. Barnes quit parading the wagon now becomes "lost" until the elephant carving only shows up some 15 years later. The [two] elephant carving[s] off this tableau wagon [were] recovered about 1939 and placed on the entrance gate to the World Jungle Compound at Thousand Oaks, California, near Los Angeles. This place has recently become known as "Jungleland", and the carving[s] [are] still there. What happened to the rest of the carvings and the wagon itself is not known to this writer but can be safely assumed that they rotted away or were discarded at the Venice lot.

I am beginning to get some very helpful information from various fans and historians on some of the wagons we have discussed recently. One extremely valuable comment comes from W. H. Woodcock, noted elephant trainer and fellow CHS member. Woodcock also is the leading circus wagon historian in the country and I accept always his findings as being positive fact. Woodcock says that the Sells-Floto Elephant Tableau discussed in the November issue was carried on the road by Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in the 30's for several seasons during the time the show did not parade. The wagon was used as on elephant trapping wagon by Cheerful Garner. It was placed inside the menagerie, and the wonderful trapping and wardrobe man, Freddie Wells, kept the tableau as near immaculate as is possible with a circus. The wagon really fitted in good and looked like a circus sitting at the end of the elephant line. The wagon was there in 1935 and 1937 and the fact that it was kept inside the menagerie tent may be the reason why it shows up in very few photos of the show those years. 

No comments: