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Tuesday, September 05, 2006 

Saugerties. NY. 80 miles. Grass and gravel. Rain.

The first modern elephant came to America in 1796. She never had a name, she was simply “the elephant.”. The second elephant in America arrived in 1804. We know everything about her. She was Old Bet, the “mother” of the American Circus. The man who made Old Bet famous was a farmer from Somers, N.Y. in the Hudson River Valley, by the name of . Hackaliah Bailey. So successful was the exhibition of Old Bet, Mr. Bailey took on partners, including his neighbor Nathan Howe. In 1817 the partners imported two more elephants to add to a growing menagerie. In 1826 Mr. Howe partnered with another aspiring showman, Aaron Turner to produce a combination menagerie and circus, exhibited for the for the first time in a canvas tent. The circus tent changed everything. The bigtop was born. Today, playing here in Saugerties the circus has returned to the spiritual home of every mudshow. The circus today is digital sound, and theater lighting, with performers whoses skills far exceed anything imagined in 1826. There is a glamour to the circus today -- even on a wet Tuesday in September -- unrivaled by the homespun of those early pioneer shows. Our artists have traveled the world.

But Old Bet would still feel right at home here.

Circuses have changed dramatically, more exciting than ever.

Elephants have always been just fine right out of the package.

About me

  • I'm B.E.Trumble
  • From Everywhere, United States
  • Ben Trumble works in circus, carnival, and media relations
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