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Ringling Circus Train and Performance Anaheim, July, 2016
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

July 29 - Aug. 7,
2016 at Anaheim, California

Photos and text, except where noted, by Carl Morrison,

--Graphic from   

(Click any cropped photo for a larger image; Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

Table of Contents

1.  Blue Unit Train Information (or read below)

2.  "Out of this World" Performance Photos

3.  Links


The center of the shield being blue indicates that this is a car on the Blue Unit.

Again this year, thanks to Rhett Coates,, for this excellent information about the Blue Unit Circus Train:

"I bring you this information about the Ringling Blue Unit Circus Train:

Date: 07/25/16 09:20
RBBB Blue--July 27--Ontario to Anaheim CA
Author: rbx551985
151.625 is the Circus Train Operations radio frequency.

Circus Train Yahoo Group:

July 27 BLUE UNIT Train-Run from Ontario to Anaheim, California.

2016 Blue Unit Circus Train:
---61 Cars* (40 conventional passenger-type cars; 21 TTX-[type] piggyback flats)
---4,490 Tons (when fully loaded)
---5,409 Feet (WITHOUT host RR's power attached; 1 mile = 5,280 feet)

BLUE UNIT -- 146th Edition -- "OUT OF THIS WORLD" -- extended tour.

Current RBBB rail-tour Edition Numbers for the two railroad shows, Blue and Red, are measured from the show's first year, 1871. Train-run ["jump"] dates presume each train departs the morning [or day] after the closing performance date. RBBB Circus Trains can change scheduled routing and departure time without notice.

2016 PLAY DATES for the 146th Edition ("OUT OF THIS WORLD"), from the official RBBB website:

Fresno, CA: July 7 - 10
Los Angeles, CA: July 14 - 19

Ontario, CA: July 22 - 26

Anaheim, CA: July 29 - Aug. 7
Oakland, CA: Aug. 18 - 22
San Jose, CA: Ag. 25 - Sept. 5
Bakersfield, CA: Sept. 9 - 11
Sacramento, CA: Sept. 15 - 18
Salt Lake City, UT: Sept. 23 - 26
Denver, CO: Sept. 30 - Oct. 9
Columbus, OH: Oct. 14 - 16
Cleveland, OH: Oct. 20 - 23
Rosemont, IL: Nov. 4 - 13
Chicago, IL: Nov. 17 - 27
Indianapolis, IN: Dec. 1 - 4
St. Louis, MO: Dec. 8 - 11
Oklahoma City, OK: Dec. 15 - 18 

The 2016 Blue Unit Trainmaster is Lonnie Robinson. 


Photo taken trackside August 1, 2016, in Anaheim, California

Lonnie is from Austin, Texas, and he confirmed that quite a few of the train crew are from Texas.  He said since each the Blue and Red Units have gone to Mexico, they have not returned.  He confirmed our earlier discussion that rail traveling in Mexico is very convenient with the new ties and rails and overall system.  He came to the Blue Unit from the Red Unit after a couple of years off the train. 

In 2013, while he was the Red Unit Trainmaster, I interviewed him.  Here is that 2013 interview:

The Trainmaster of the Red Unit of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is Lonnie Robinson.  In a telephone interview with him when the show was in Phoenix in June, 2013, Lonnie listed the consist for me:  4 animal cars; 34 coaches, which includes a generator car and shop car, 2 container cars for concessions; and 19 flatcars.  Lonnie is from Austin, Texas, and has worked his way up to being Trainmaster of the Red Unit.

The Red and Blue units of the Circus make up two new shows every two years.  They then go on tour for 11 months and 1 week one year and 10 months and 2 weeks the second year.

I mentioned seeing the Trainmaster in recent years changing wheel sets during their Anaheim stay.  Lonnie mentioned that they carry two wheel sets under the shop car and that they have wheel sets stored around the country for use when needed.  I know that the Blue unit, with Joe Colossa as Trainmaster, went to Mexico this year, but Lonnie said the Red Unit had gone there last year.  I asked if the stereotype of a dilapidated rail system in Mexico was still true, and that they did not run with signals, but rather they run by radio as they did when I rode the rails there in 2004.  He said he was surprised also, but they have all new rails and concrete ties and the ride was great.  He said the circus is sold out for years in the future in Mexico.  The Red Unit went non-stop from Laredo, Texas, to Mexico City.  The only down side, according to him, was that they had to skip New Orleans and Corpus Cristi to get the time to go to Mexico.  He said that circus management and the trainmasters all have positive things to say about taking the longest train in the world to Mexico for shows.

Darren Lenz, Assistant Train Master, I also met trackside in Anaheim.  He is from, Dallas, Texas.  I asked Darren if Lonnie was around and he said, "Yes, he is in a blue pickup like this one except his has a chrome grill and mine has a painted grill."  He confirmed that that was an indication that he was the Assistant!  He got into circus work because his sister was a Ringling clown for a year in the past.  He first worked in Transportation before coming on the Blue Unit Train.  I asked about the time it takes to load the train and get ready to make a run for the next town.  He said loading takes about 10 hours and unloading takes about 6 hours.

Darren said a lot of folks go to work on the train, but do not stay long.  They have no idea what it is like working and living on a train for 11 or so months a year.  He then said, "It's a Circus, right!"

In my walk around the residential coaches in Anaheim for their July 29 - Aug. 7 show, I took a few photos:


Stationary RBBX coaches viewed from Katella Ave., in Anaheim, California.

There were two cuts of about 20 coaches each as you look north of Katella west of Lewis Street.  Entrance to the coaches is along a perpendicular track off Lewis north of Katella.


The location of the RBBX coaches during their Anaheim performances.


Immediately across Katella to the south were these RBBX containers.


The circus coaches are marked with the RBBX number and also the cream colored circular "Car Number" (170) easier to remember for occupants and expected guests.



I photographed this car since it was unique with its ribbed siding.  I also like the bicycle beside the trucks as a size indicator.

If you goggle the RBBX number to get information about these cars, look for the rrpicturesarchive link to find information like:

Pictures of RBBX 41404
Owner:    Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey
Type:    Passenger Car
AAR Class:    PA: Car equipped to handle passengers.
AAR Type:    M500
Detail Info:      Misc Cars
User Notes:      Ex SCL 6406-Camp Car-RBB #190


A coach like this, with a center door, if probably a high-level employee, like the Train Master or Show Manager with a 1/2 car accommodations.  Many windows in a car indicates that it could have up to 1/16th car accommodations.


This Power Car has a washing machines inside.  At it is listed as:  length 85' 6", width 10' 6", height 14' 3"


At the end of the 2 lengths of residential coaches, I found some of their flatcars for hauling circus wagons and other vehicles.


The use "Circus Loading" procedures by laying down the plates between stationary cars and pulling all wagons off and down to a wide crossing, then turn the mule into a street or parking lot near the arena.


These mules can pull as many as 4 loaded circus wagons from off the train to the arena.


Seeing this small refrigerator inside one car reminded me that many accommodations on the circus train have these and microwaves.


Feeling hot while I circled the train, I took a photo of my iWatch to record the temperature, time, and location.


12:23 p.m. Anaheim, 84 degrees, Sunny, Sunset 7:50 pm, on August 1, 2016.


Official trash bag on car 174.

For a 3-page listing of all types of Ringling rail cars listed by the numbers you see above, go to:


Not seeing the old bus to carry performers to the arena, I surmised that they now have these two vehicles that they carry on the train.  Noting the Florida license plate, home of the Ringling Circus, confirmed my suspicions.


Pulling back onto Lewis St. from where the circus train was located, I spotted this location marker.  For those with the correct information at hand, they could find this spot.

Something new in 2016 with Ringling is a Circus App:  Download the free Ringling Bros. App at


To me, the most interesting part of the app. is "Meet the Performers"

Where I found this information about my favorite act in the Ringling Circus, The Torres Family who ride motorcycles in a large metal globe.

The Torres Family first joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® over ten years ago and has been a perennial fan-favorite with record-shattering performances ever since. Motocross is a popular sport for kids in the Torres’ home country of Paraguay. The family raced professionally in many motocross circuits all across Latin America, and while visiting in Argentina, the family members got their first glimpse of the imposing contraption that would change their lives forever. A fellow motocross competitor and friend who performed for a local circus had an act that included a steel globe with motorcycles racing around inside. As soon as the Torres Family laid eyes on the act, they were hooked immediately.

Within a year, they had learned and perfected the act and were invited to perform in popular Latin circuses, including Circo Hermanos Muños, Circo del Sol and Circo Tejedos. The troupe has also appeared on well-known television programs in both Argentina and their native Paraguay.

Now with more than 15 years of experience, the act has evolved with faster speeds, more motorcycles and complex maneuvers. They describe their technique inside the globe as “very much like what pilots do in an air show.” Blowing a whistle and revving their engines to cue one another, each rider embarks upon a set pattern. Once the riders are in motion, maintaining constant speeds (which can reach up to 65 miles per hour) and distance from one another is critical. Still, when they are inside the globe they are “completely focused on where everyone else is and are making constant, micro-second adjustments.” Although the Torres Family admits that being in the globe can be unnerving at times, they find confidence by feeding off the audience’s energy and applause. To them, performing is not just a job; it is their life, their passion, and love for motorcycles that really drives them to give the best performance they can.

The family is a tight-knit group, both outside and inside the globe, and is excited to part of another tour with Ringling Bros.®
--From Ringling Bros Circus App   


Yours Truly with Carmen V Torres Colossa of the Torres Family mentioned above.  I met Carmen when I interviewed Joe Colossa, Blue Unit Trainmaster, her husband, in 2012.  Read that report at:
Since then, Carmen and Joe have a baby boy and she has rejoined the Torres Family on the road to help the team.
There are now 3 women and 3 men in the performance group.


New this year with Ringling is no arena floor pre-show when the audience interacts with the performers.  Instead some of the performers go to sets around the inside of the arena to pose for photos like the Torres Family is doing above on a mock motorcycle. 

They pose in front of a green screen and in the final photo ($25 including digital copies) is a back ground of the globe of steel they ride in, perhaps with this as background: 



This year there is no preshow on the arena floor, rather there is an Ice Rink with a covered section for stability of equipment and performing animals.


Part of the preshow is Alexander Lacey showing the audience how he trains the Big Cats.


The Simet Spacewalkers were a unique act.


As with every major circus act, each segment gets more breathtaking.


There is a Grand Parade of most of the performers.


Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson and Paulo.




The King Charles Troupe had different unicycles on the ice than they had during their performance.

I found this interesting story about the origin of the King Charles Troupe in the Ringling App.:

In 1918, a young boy by the name of Jerry King slipped under the tent to see The Greatest Show on Earth®. Enamored, he especially recalled the elephants and the man on the high wire riding a unicycle. In 1958, as a father who was concerned with the social events occurring within his community in South Bronx, King taught his son Charles and every kid in the neighborhood who wanted to learn how to ride a unicycle. He started a unicycle club and laid down certain rules to follow, such as discipline, direction and Christian principles.

Ten years later, the troupe auditioned on the sidewalk outside of Madison Square Garden for Irvin Feld, producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. The audition was a success, and the King Charles Troupe made its debut with Ringling Bros.® in 1969, becoming the first all-African-American circus act in its history. Led by King’s son Charles, the King Charles Troupe reigned in popularity for nearly 20 years with The Greatest Show On Earth. Since then, the troupe has performed for stage productions domestically and internationally.
The current troupe members are motivated by Jerry King’s slogan, “Get changed, get together and get going.” They also have a tradition of their own: before every performance they say a prayer, do a special handshake and team roll call at the curtain.
--From the Ringling App   


The Torres Family troupe were in the parade as well, and I spotted Carmen.



Alexander Lacey



The lighting was dazzling.





Alexander Lacey's Big Cats Performance




The Torres Family performance.



Double Wide Flying Trapeze



The King Charles Troupe performance








A terrific performance again this year.


Top of this Report | Other reports by Carl Morrison including "America by Amtrak" | | "Out of This World" Blue Unit Show |