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Lion and Snake Bandwagon

Lion and Snake or Lion’s Bride Bandwagon

by Joseph Bradbury

The wagon called the Lion and Snake, or Lion’s Bride, was built by Bode in the winter of 1904-05 for the Carl Hagenbeck Trained Animal Show and served on that circus for the 1905 and 1906 seasons.

Lion and Snake Bandwagon( 1905 – 1906 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 9 – photo # 30A – Carl Hagenbeck Shows – J.W. Beggs collection )

B. E. Wallace purchased the Hagenbeck show following the 1906 season and in 1907 the wagon was on the new combined Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. It remained on that show through the 1925 season. In the early years of the combine the show had two huge chariot type bandwagons, one of Carl Hagenbeck and one of Great Wallace origin. One of these was used as the No. 1 lead bandwagon for several years but from about 1915 on through the final parade season of 1925 the Lion and Snake was the No. 1 bandwagon.

Lion and Snake Bandwagon

( 1915-1917 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 45 – photo # 49B – W. Hope Tilley photo )

As you can see the body was painted a white in 1915 and was back to a dark color, presumably red, by 1920

Lion and Snake Bandwagon( 1920 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 9 – photo # 64B – Sept. 6, 1920 in Memphis, TN.- Ralph Miller photo )

From 1926-33 the wagon was stored at Peru quarters but in 1934 it was renovated and used in the Hagenbeck-Wallace parade that year. Again it was stored at Peru for 1935 and 1936 but is believed to have been out for a short time in early season 1937 on Hagenbeck-Wallace while the show paraded. Later it was sent back to quarters where it remained until moved to Sarasota about 1943. In 1945 it was equipped with steel gears and pneumatic tires and was carried on the road by Ringling-Barnum where it also was used in the spec and in the war bond parade in New York.

Lion and Snake Tableau( 1951 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 15 – photo # 66C – Museum of American Circus in Sarasota, FL – Feb. 1951 – Joseph Bradbury photo )

This wagon was given to the newly formed Museum of American Circus in Sarasota, Florida in 1949. For reasons unknown, it moved to the new circus museum, back to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus winter quarters for a couple years, and then back in 1959 to the museum where it was completely restored. There it was brilliantly painted red with gold leaf carvings.

Lion and Snake Bandwagon

( 2013 – Johnny Trapino photo )

This Bandwagon was caught in an ownership battle with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ownership in 1976. After being removed from the Ringling Museums, this wagon was put on loan at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin where it got to participate in the Great Circus Parades. In 2013, this wagon was returned to Florida where it resides in the Feld Entertainment complex in Ellenton, Florida.

(1) Bandwagon, Vol. 7, No. 5 (Sep-Oct), 1963, pp. 17-19

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