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Nash circus train cars up for auction

Posted on January 2, 2021

Updated on January 4, 2021

Local news
Old Ringling Bros. circus rail cars the N.C. Department of Transportation bought and stored near Momeyer are being auctioned off.

Don Carrington | Carolina Journal

Old Ringling Bros. circus rail cars the N.C. Department of Transportation bought and stored near Momeyer are being auctioned off.

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

MOMEYER — Former circus train cars parked on unused tracks outside town are being auctioned by the state.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is auctioning off the train cars once owned and used by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Known as the Greatest Show on Earth, the circus in some form or other ran for 146 years from 1871 to 2017.

Bids start at $45,000 per car. Winning purchasers have to remove the train cars.

The train cars, built in the 1960s, were dormitory units for circus staff, according to information provided by state transportation officials.

The NCDOT purchased the nine circus cars, painted with images of animals, for $383,000 in 2017. The NCDOT planned to refurbish the cars for use on its passenger rails, but never did because the agency received $77 million in federal grants to buy new train cars.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell called out state transportation officials last year for the purchases, citing them as an example of wasteful spending by the agency.

House Bill 77 set a year-end deadline for the NCDOT to start selling off ant railroad equipment that wouldn’t be refurbished.

Another set of train cars once used by the circus have been turned into a privately run museum by Kirby Family Farms, an educational facility in Florida.

SHORT-LINE GRANTS

The NCDOT is also handing out short-line railroad grants, said agency spokeswoman Katie Trout.

Seventeen short-line railroads will soon be making improvements to their infrastructure thanks to roughly $16.7 million in matching grant funds being awarded as part of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Freight Rail and Rail Crossing Safety Improvement Program.

With a total cost of $2.1 million, workers will install new bridge ties and crossties improving bridges on the Main Line and Rocky Mount line of the Carolina Coastal Railway in Nash, Wilson and other counties.

Editor’s Note: Background information in this story is used with permission from the Carolina Journal, the John Locke Foundation’s newspaper covering North Carolina government and public policy. 

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