Tag Archive | Barnum and Bailey

Baraboo Tour 2- Ringling Family and Circus Lore


AL. Ringling Mansion in Baraboo

At 2:00, we returned to the AL. Ringling Mansion, owner Joe Colossa kindly offered to take us on an additional tour of Baraboo. He is an authority of circus history, particularly of the Ringling family.  Our self-guided tour in the morning had a lot of gaps since a lot of what Joe knows about Baraboo and the Ringling family did not turn up in my research.  The internet is a good research aid, but not a complete source of information. Talking to PEOPLE is important too for gathering  facts.

We piled into Joe’s vehicle and we were off!  We headed first to Walnut Hill Cemetery to see the grave sites of the Ringling family members.  In recent years we have included cemeteries are part of our trip itineraries since they often include grave sites of important citizens of the communities we visit.

Walnut Hill Cemetery in Baraboo

The first two we saw on our earlier visit this morning.  The mausoleums of AL and Lou Ringling and Henry Ringling were not hard to find, as they were among the tallest monuments there. Notice how Al’s is a little more ornate on the outside?

AL and Henry Ringling mausoleums in Baraboo

Next to Henry’s mausoleum and just beyond it on the backside are more grave sites. on right is an area with a border of stone and many small markers. It has a few steps and says “Ringling” at the top of the steps. Here are the three sites inside of the enclosure.

Ringling gravesites in Baraboo

Al Ringling family gravesites in Baraboo

What we didn’t know when we stopped by in the morning was just over this small hill were more family grave sites. These are quite old.  The Newer Moeller one is family relation too.

Ringling Family Grave sites 1

Moeller gravesite in Baraboo

Also nearby were these.

Ringling Family Grave sites 2

Al Ringling family gravesites in Baraboo 2

We didn’t know this in the morning, but St. Joseph Catholic Church  occupied the right side of the cemetery. See map here.   A rather ornate Ringling monument stands, located near the street.

Ringling Grave sites at St. Joseph cemetery in Baraboo

Ringling monument at St. Joseph Cemetery in Baraboo

Quite the thorough overview of the cemeteries. The next segment of our tour were the many houses the Ringling family have owned over 100+ years.  This small home is where the large Ringling family began, before achieving fame and becoming wealthy.

Ringling Family first house

The (Charles) Ringling House, now a B and B.Ringling House Bed and Breakfast in Baraboo

Other homes, I do not remember who owned them.  We went quickly from house to house. All were members of the Ringling family though.

Four Ringling houses in Baraboo

The last part of our tour are artifacts that were unknown to us.  BEHIND the St. Vincent de Paul store on Broadway are old rail cars and rail car buildings that are seemingly abandoned by Circus World Museum.

St. Vincent de Paul Baraboo 10-15-05 341

This is the largest known rail car building for storage. We could barely see the other end!

Circus World Rail Car building in Baraboo

Next to it is the last elephant car, slowly being broken down by our harsh weather and lack of care, sad !  😦

Elephant Rail car in Baraboo

Also an assortment of flat rail cars used in their circus parades, now sitting unused since about 2003.

Circus Flat Cars

I held the camera over the fence and got this view of the long  building and an even older train.

Rail car building and old train

This concludes our one-hour tour of Baraboo. We look forward to meeting up with Joe again to see more later.  Thanks for the fun history lesson!

Baraboo Water Tower