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"BONEYARD" FOR DEAD CIRCUSES
Gaudy Parade Wagons, Empty Railway Trains, Lots of Animals Whose Τrouping Days Are Ended Occupy Unique Hall Farm in Mis souri,Where the ShowsLand Af ter % They Go Broke. BY P. M. McCLINTOCK. IN perusing your tourist guide for informa tion regarding points of interest in rural Missouri, you will find almost every point worthy of visit well covered—except pos sibly the most interesting place in the grand old "Show Me" State, and, inciden tally, the only place of its kind on all the earth: the late W. P. Hall's Circus Farm, a veritable circus boneyard where ill-fated cir cuses end their days in utter desolation. The founder of the farm died just a few weeks ago. This unique farm is located on the northern boundary of the quiet little village of Lan caster, In Schuyler County, some 200 miles north and slightly west of St. Louis. Lancaster, surrounded by undulating prairie land, is a country town of lets than a thou sand, and has little to boast ol within the vil lage limite—but the circus farm Is certainly something to show off. even to the most blase of city dwellers. Here is written the final chapter of many a •"grand, glittering, gorgeous" show. Here, to tarnish and rust away, have come scores of elaborately carved and gilded circus wagons of every type and description, ornate animal dens, magnificent gold-leafed band chariots, whose initial cost would make the most luxurious motor cars appear cheap In comparison, calliopes with gorgeous carvings and sunburst wheels, whose shrill, raucous notes are silenced, possibly for all time. WHO does not recall the call of the calliope or steam piano on circus day—its melo dious tunes heard blocks away, announcing that the big parade was on its way to Main »treet, where the whole county was lined up to view its wonders? The calliope is beloved of all circus men. One astute circus manager Insisted upon re viving the steam calliope this season, despite the fact that his show has not paraded for years. It gives daily concerta and lures many to the show grounds, which, after all, Is the main function of the parade. Strewn along the western edge of the "farm" are dozens of weather-beaten red circus vans or baggage wagons, with titles of erstwhile well-known circuses traceable on their warped sides. A lone polar bear weaves tirelessly back and forth within the confines of a huge tar nished, golden animal cage, oddly labeled "Hippopotamus" and once a bright feature of Main street parades. Two long, rambling, frame barns house the pick of the parade equipment—heavily carved tableaux depicting life in the various nations of the globe—Russia, Great Britain and, the most elaborate of all, "America," star-spangled in red, white, blue and 22-carat gold leaf. These relics of a bygone era repose in splendid isolation, carefully covered with fleece-lined canvas tarpaulins, stenciled "Parade Tableau— America," etc. OLD showmen claim that the circus misses the parade as much as the disappointed public, according to the daily receipts of the ticket wagons. Some day some strong-hearted circus man will come along and, discarding present customs, will take these beautiful char iots, and the kids of all ages will be made happy again, on circus day, with a parade on Main street. Motorists driving along the highway flanking the farm on the west, may observe the meas ured tread of the indolent camel herd, num bering 13 of the beasts with the perpetually moving Jaws, Including four leg-conscious calves. Thirty elephants of every age and sise munch native hay contentedly. They include Major, the first elephant owned by the American Circus Corporation when that chain circus organization owned but a single 10-car show. Major is a handsome beast, as elephants go, with gleaming ivory tusks meas uring over seven feet in length. The elephants are well-versed and con stantly rehearsed in circus ring tricks, ready at a moment's notic ; to "join out." Fraternal circuses, fairs, conventions, celebrations and regular circuses are supplied with elephants by the farm. Lions, tigers, "sacred" cattle and zebras are quartered in barns, heated in Winter months and hot enough in Summer to cause the huge cats' tongues to hang out as they continue that sad, hopeless pacing of their prison. HORSES, the very life of the circus, are here in a profusion of breeds and shades, aris tocratic Arabian and Persian ring horses, proudly aloof in complete ostracism of the humble baggage Percherons—caste, strong in circus life, evidently extends to the animals, as well defined as between big-top performers and side-show people. Hall experimented in cross breeding and produced many hybrid examples of this art. The private railroad spur a mile from the main circus farm accommodates nearly 40 big circus railroad cars. Some are still gaudily painted and lettered, in excellent repair, while others are sadly dilapidated and beyond use fulness, after years of idleness, exposed to th· elements of all seasons. Seventy-foot steel flats, needing only a eoat of vivid orange and then the road; advertising cars, extravagantly lettered with lurid descrip tive phrases, wooden and steel stock cars, In cluding two old-timers with the iiistoric titles. "Giflord Bros. Shows" and "Yankee Robinson Circus," dimly visible through the peeling scale· of paint—standing in the same spot for more than a quarter century. A dozen red-and-green and red-and-whlto circus sleepers, windows smashed by mischiev ous schoolboys, stand as mute evidence to trav elers of the branch line alongside, that this is Lancaster, the graveyard of ill-starred circuses. Hall's entrance into the circus business was just another romance in the anna^ of the most alluring profession In existence and, strangely, the most hazardous. William P. Hall, who died a few weeks ago after a long illness, had his office In an old advance car of the historic Yankee Robinson Circus, and alleged to have been a pert of Lin coln's funeral train. This old coach, now en tirely devoid of paint (yet with a little help one may trace the Yankee Robinson name), is located at the entrance of the farm, and is sur mounted by a huge wooden elephant, the Ha£^ trademark. As a boy, Billy Hall worked hard as a farm hand for board and a small wage, always with the determintlon to own and operate a circus of his own some day. Saving his money he purchased a horse for $11, traded it success fully, and bought still another. In a few years he had acquired quite a reputation as a judge of horse flesh. Horse trading and mule skinning is still A major industry in Missouri today, and Hall, the richest man in Schuyler County, was a big trader until his death. Hall's actual induction into the thorn Continued on Fifteenth Pafe. Monuments to a show that failed. The ornate sleeping cars once used by the Buck Jones Wild West Shows, now standing unused on the siding at Lancaster, Mo. 1 "Major," a veteran trouper, considered one of the finest elephants in America. V Mementos of parades of long ago . . . Worn-out circus cages, parked in a corner of the "boneyard" where circuses go when they run into difficulties. ^ » J The late W. P. Hall, founder of the unique circus farm.