Circus Car
Mt Vernon 70' Flatcar

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Mt Vernon 70' Circus Flatcar


Mt Vernon 70' Circus Flatcar with decals


70ft deck car used by Circus and Show Trains from the 1930's through late 1960's

In 1911 Buffalo Bill's Wild West show started to use flat cars for moving its show around the US in 60’ cars. However, circus owners realized that railroads charged by car load rather than car length so started to order 70’ cars.  By the 1920's the Warren Tank Car Company of Warren, Pennsylvania, and the Mt. Vernon Car Manufacturing Company of Mt. Vernon, Illinois, were the principle providers of the steel circus flat cars.

  Every circus and carnival show that travelled used 70’ flat cars in their consists, and the cars were loaded ‘circus style’ - by pulling their circus wagons along the flat cars with temporary bridging or cross-over plates [of metal] laid down over the coupler ends. Often the pulling power was provided by animals including elephants but usually by tractors. The wagons descended down the end ramp by gravity with the wagons being controlled by ropes around the snagging posts on the cars.

Cars were being built until 1947, the last order being for five flat cars for Ringling Brothers Circus by Thrall Car Company of Chicago, similar in appearance to the Mt. Vernon style flat cars. However, there was a strong second hand market for the cars, and many cars were sold between circus and show units.

The car offered here is the Mt Vernon version of the car. The kit is in cast in lead free pewter, and has laser cut wooden decks.

N Scale Kits also supply the Warren style car here

Above: Parts supplied in the kit. Below: A completed car from the kit, without wood decks to show cills.

Remove any flashing and glue the two sides onto the central sill. Glue the steps under the four corners.

Snubbing posts can be installed on the top of the sides - although these were not usually left in place when the cars were traveling!

Check the height of the car after fitting trucks to ensure clearance under the deck, if needed fit shims/washers between truck and bolster.

After the car is painted, the self adhesive wooden decks should be installed.

We used MTL #1036 trucks and #1023 (assembled) or 1025 (kits) couplers.If truck mounted couplers are used, the end beam may have to be cut wider to allow the coupler to swing.

N Scale Kits have produced a number of different decals for these cars based on historic Circus and Show Train paint schemes from the Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

These decals are available for the car by contacting N Scale Kits directly, at $3 if ordered at the same time as the car. Contact N Scale Kits for full details of the many paint schemes available.

e-mail us at our Sales Depot at
for details of decals available before ordering

The World Circus Museum has pictures of a number of these cars, in a variety of paint schemes here

There are a number of books with useful pictures and drawings:

Carstens Harold. 1975. Circus Trains and Modeling. Freedon NJ: Carstens Publications
Parkinson Tom and Fox Charles Philip. 1978. The Circus Moves by Rail. Boulder CO: Pruett
Dahlinger Jnr, Fred. 2000. Trains of the Circus 1872-1958. Hudson WI: Iconografix
Dahlinger Jnr, Fred. 2000. Show Trains of the 20th Century. Hudson WI: Iconografix
Nelson, Bruce. 2013. America’s Greatest Circus Train. Forest Park IL: Heimburger House

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