Politics has been described as a circus with politicians compared to performers (typically, clowns) thousands of times. Rarely does anyone consider the converse, the political side of circuses. It does exist; circuses are required to obey strict safety and training regulations, they have to acquire permits, and they have to pay taxes. When any of those requirements aren’t met, government steps in. Alternately, when a circus is shrinking or closing and auctions off its excess material, officials – local, state, or federal – may step in and purchase the offered items.
This was the sad fate which befell Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey circus in 2017, when they folded their tents for the final time. The players and workers left to find jobs elsewhere – whether at smaller venues or away from the circus life altogether – and the ownership was left to settle with its creditors, and that meant selling off many items from its storied history.
Now, in the beginning of 2021, the saga of some of that material is coming to an end.
The state of North Carolina possesses multiple train cars from the circus, at least one of which retains much of the distinct painting which made them recognizable as they traversed the nation’s railways. The state acquired the train cars from the circus with the expectation of refurbishing the cars for use in North Carolina’s railway system, but a series of federal grants directed cash to the state specifically for the purchase of nearly three dozen new train engines and cars.
The state no longer needs the old ones, so they’re looking to auction them off to the general public. For a mere $45K (or $55K for the nice one that retains most of the original paint job) people can start the bidding on a used circus train car. Just be aware that the bidding ends on the 4th, and payment must be made within ten days of the close of the auction.
Also, the train car has to be hauled away within ten days of the auction’s end, and the existing train tracks can’t be used until the cars are repaired and pass state inspection. That is recognized by the state as a potential issue, and in response they’ve made it very clear they will provide no aid whatsoever in clearing the train away.
But, the circus was a home of dreams. Maybe your sedan or pickup is capable of hauling 50 tons, that won’t be much of an issue… and you could have a guest house like none other in your backyard. Dream big.
Question of the night: What’s the best or worst thing about attending the circus?