As soon as the circus train comes to a full stop at the circus lot the wagons are run out from the cars, the horses hitched on and the material in each wagon is unloaded exactly where it belongs.
Sixty specially trained men seize the centre pole of the tent, known as the king pole. By hand this pole is pushed up into the air and the base of the pole fits securely into a foundation. When once the king pole is erected, the other poles are swiftly raised into place by horse power, using the centre or king pole as a lever.
While the poles are going up the stake men are driving the fifteen hundred stakes to hold the canvas from blowing away. While this crew is busy a special crew of canvas men are unrolling the bundles of canvas which have been distributed around the lot. As the sections of canvas are unrolled another crew follows along them and laces the dozens of separate sections together into one complete three-acre tent.
Simultaneously all crews have finished their work-the stakes are driven, the poles are up, the canvas is unrolled and laced together, the ropes from the canvas running up over the tops of the poles and off to the twenty circus horses are all in position. At a signal from the chief the horses start forward and the huge canvas rises swiftly into the air to the top of the pole. In eleven minutes the fifty wagons with the thousands of separate parts have come out of the cars, been unloaded, the parts assembled and the complete tent erected.
But this is only one of the tents the circus carries. This is the largest tent and is called by the circus men the "Big Top." This big tent is divided into forty sections, the smallest section having an area of 4,200 square feet of canvas. The entire roof of the big tent contains about 130,000 square feet. To this, of course, must be added the canvas used to form the walls of this enormous tent. Besides this "Big Top" the tent which exhibits the menagerie is an enormous affair - about as big as the main tent of the circus in previous years, and there are more than thirty other tents . . .
Thus, when at night the many tents are torn down, every wagon is found to be on a bee line with and the shortest possible distance from that, which a half hour later, is to compose its contents. When the tent poles, ranging in size from what are known as side poles to the giant tapering timbers that form the masts of the gigantic "big-top," are taken down they point on an exact, line with the waiting wagons. Because of this there is no time lost in turning either to the left or to the right on the part of the men who carry them to their destination.
Last modified October 2005