Friday, September 28, 2018

Forepaugh’s Circus & Wild West Show

In his research on the Bremen Historic Train Depot, Indiana, Derek Jensen points out
the critical role railroads played in the success of circuses in the Unites States during the second half of the nineteenth century: 

"From 1865 onward circuses criss-crossed America to great fanfare, 

Forepaugh Circus Train 1890

few more impressive than that of Adam Forepaugh 

and his elephant-trainer son, Addie, Jr,

"Addie" Forepaugh Jr. in 1870

 the Forepaugh’s Circus & Wild West Show.
Adam Forepaugh's Great Show. Military Drill by Forepaugh's 25 Elephants. Cincinnati: Strobridge, (1883). Color lithograph poster depicting the ringleader of the circus commanding a herd of elephants. 30 x 40”.

Forepaugh was second only to PT Barnum’s, and a great rivalry arose between them. Barnum’s famous Jumbo was taller, 

but Forepaugh’s Bolivar was heavier, prompting both to claim they had the largest elephant in the world. 

They eventually split the country into exclusive territories, although they managed to resolve their differences and play combined shows in Philadelphia and New York.

When Forepaugh sold his train and equipment to Ringling Brothers in 1889, that circus became the biggest in the country, eventually buying up Barnum’s."

A meerschaum cheroot holder captures this part of Americana,

Courtesy Sarunas Peckus Collection
in fine

Courtesy Sarunas Peckus Collection
and accurate detail

 with Adam Forepaugh Jr.'s portrait in full view

leaving one wondering if he was its privileged owner...

Detail from Adam Forepaugh's Great Show. Military Drill by Forepaugh's 25 Elephants.                     Cincinnati: Strobridge, (1883).

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