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Martin Downs’ Cole Bros. Lion Tableau

Lion Tableau / Bandwagon

by Joseph Bradbury

There is a note in the Jan. 23, 1909 Billboard which I believe is a clue as to when the bandwagon got to the show. The item says that a new bandwagon has arrived in the winter quarters of the Cole Bros. Show, and I strongly suspect this is the date this particular wagon made its debut on Cole Bros., and was probably built especially for the show.

The Kit Carson show had the reputation of being a rough and tumble grift outfit, with plenty of “hey rubes” fights when the grifters were working. A source that was familiar with the show tells me that the strong grift was what finally closed the show. On Friday, October 23, 1914 at Harlan, Kentucky, the show was shot out of town by irate natives, and the next day, Oct. 24 at Barboursville, Kentucky the show halted. Creditors had stepped into the picture and closed the show and had it shipped to the U. S. Printing & Litho. Co. plant at Cincinnati, Ohio where it was advertised for auction. The stock was sold in December 1911, and March 20, 1915 was the time set for the sale of other properties at Cincinnati, except 5 cars and 12 wagons that were still stored at Harrisburg, but these were to be sold by description at the auction. Later note says the equipment in Harrisburg was taken over by a rail car company.

Lion Tableau( 1913 – Conover Set # 288 – photo # 1 )

There are only a few photos of this wagon to be found. The next photo is from 1914 and shows no differences between the years.

Lion Bandwagon( 1914 – Conover Set # 288 – photo # 2 )

The Kit Carson property at the sale went for very low prices. The Billboard states that the Dodson Carnival got the calliope (which may have been the instrument only) pole wagon, stage coach, 4 baggage wagons, blacksmith wagon, two tableaux, 1 stringer wagon, and a bandwagon. J. A. Jones, Harry Hill (Wild West), and Rice & Dore got other equipment. The report also goes on to say that “outsiders” got among other things, the ticket wagon, and one tableaux wagon.

    Whether it was the Dodson Carnival or an “outsider” as the Billboard put it, who got this bandwagon I am unable to say. The trail now becomes lost and I have yet to find any wagon historian who can trace it past this sale. The May 15, 1915 Billboard reported that the sale of the Harrisburg equipment by the rail car company to the U. S. Printing & Lithographing Co. had been set aside by the courts but how that deal finally came out I still cannot answer. (1)

(1) Bandwagon, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Sep-Oct), 1957, pp. 8-9

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