Circus Comes to Ellwood

       We have heard from a couple of people that remember when the circus came to Ellwood City but it took awhile to get a picture of such an event. At the beginning of the twentieth century the circus came to town a couple of times and set up in the west end part of town just North of Lawrence Avenue. In this picture you can see the mill in the background so we believe this was one of the times they set up at that location. There are a number of tents including the big three ring tent on the left, the “attractions” tent on the right and a number of smaller tents and wagons in front of both. We can not tell what the children are sitting on in the bottom left corner of the picture.
Leonard Chapman recalled that for a number of years the circus would be on the farm of Ben Parker on Wampum Road just west of the town limits. He shared how a lot of the local kids would go and help the circus set up the big tent and the other tents in exchange for a ticket to see the show. It was a lot of hard work but they enjoyed doing it and being part of “the show”. He also shared the excitement they got being around the circus people and seeing the animals while setting it up and likened it to being back stage.
The year the circus truck wrecked near the Frisco Bridge was a year it was held at the Parker farm. On the last day the circus was in town, the truck that hauled the cook tent left ahead of the other trucks to go to the next town to setup for the next day. The truck went through Ellwood and down old Frisco hill but lost control. The large truck did not make the turn on the Frisco side of the bridge and hit the house to the right, not the house straight off the end the bridge. We have not validated if anyone was hurt in the accident or if the truck hit the bridge itself.
If you recall the circus coming to town, we would enjoy hearing your memories. Please share below, or email me at
One Comments to “Circus Comes to Ellwood”
Kathy Thalmann-Blank wrote: Yes, I do remember “the Circus” I was about 4 and my Mom took me to watch them set up the tents and walk the elephants. Do believe it was in the area of where Sherwin -Williams is now and the bank Drive-through-Vinny’s-Fotia’s-up to Michael’s–that whole area, What excitement that was-the music playing (the Calliopy (?) the shouting, the happiness that seemed to be abounding-we were too poor to purchase a ticket, BUT, Mom would walk me around those few days they were here in E/C. peeking in tents, watching them practice for the show, By the time they left -I had seen everything and enjoyed myself from having “seen the Circus”. It was during one of those days ,that I broke away from my Mom and wondered toward the RailRoad tracks-I can still hear my Mother screaming for me to “stand still”-”stand very still” as she lay on the ground and I was in between 2 moving trains- can still feel the wind blowing my hair as those trains moved . Dad was at work at the “Little Tubemill” and some one must have gotten him-’cause when those trains ended and left town-there stood my Dad on one side and Mom on the other, crying and that was when I started to cry-never realizing the danger I was in ,but crying because my parents were crying. I received many hugs and kisses and a scolding and a BIG smack across ,you know where!!! A-a-a-a-ah MEMORIES!!!

5 thoughts on “Circus Comes to Ellwood”

  1. Oh my gosh Kathy, that was some story. I can understand your parents fear. It’s a wonder neither one had a heart attack. As long as your Mom could see you standing there she knew you were okay. Have you been to a circus since? Take care.

  2. Hi cutie pie,
    What a story…….I’m glad you survived! What would this world have been like without you!!! We would have definitely been denied a most joyful heart & spirit! Even at that early age, you had an amazing sense for adventure!!
    I think I remember a circus in Frisco.

    Love you. 🙂

  3. I remember when it was in Parkers field, we lived across the Wampum Rd from Parkers the one time that I can remember going I was 3 or 4 years old. It would of been 1949 or 1950.

  4. My grandparents lived in the house that was straight off of the old Frisco Bridge. The Haus family lived in the house to the right that was damaged. I was told that at least one person was killed in the crash. If the truck would have gone straight, It probably would have killed my Grandmother, Hattie Craven. I believe this occurred late in 1949.

  5. Beverly Ann Craven Cole, how are you? Good to see you on this site. I remember when you lived at the bottom of Frisco Hill. We were in band then. Take care. Linda

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