On Monday, April 18th 2016, I spent several hours with one eye on my railfan info feed and one ear on my scanner, waiting to hear the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train enter Norfolk Southern tracks. After completing its shows in the D.C. area, the circus train packed up and left CSX's Benning Yard, passed through the nation's capital, then rolled down the old Crescent route on its way to Charleston, WV. I was fortunate enough to witness their performance, as it was the one of the final elephant performances ever for Ringling. At the beginning of May 2016, all elephants in all Ringling circus acts will be permanently retired to an elephant conservation facility in Florida, paid for by the circuses' parent company, Feld Entertainment.
The circus train is a massively impressive piece of logistics, and being that this would be the last time I'd ever see the train with the elephant cars at the head end, I had to capture it on film (okay, pixels). Previously I caught the Blue Unit of the circus train coming North in an icy February downpour, but the camera cut out halfway through the train due to the cold. I then saw the Red Unit come through Burke a month later, but declined to take a video and simply watched. Now that a piece of history was going to pass right by me, I raced out the door the moment I heard mention of the train over my scanner.
The local rock train was informed that he'd have to wait for the circus train to come south on Track 2 before said rock train could head north; this way the circus train wouldn't clog up the evening string of VREs on track 1. Unfortunately that didn't go *quite* as smoothly as the dispatcher would have liked, as VRE train 327 was held up waiting for the circus train to cross over in front of them. VRE 327 arrived at Burke station, and the circus train (operating as NS #047 with CSX power) popped over the horizon just as 327 came to a station stop. The engineer on the circus train honked a friendly warning signal and the VRE responded with two short blasts, announcing its departure. Watch as the circus train slides past the commuter train, the soon-to-be-gone elephant cars being directly behind the locomotive.
Please enjoy the photograph slideshow, and/or the YouTube video below, and thanks for reading!