Dining with a side of Scenery

Our newly acquired Ringling circus car 41406 was built in 1950 by the Budd Company as a 44 seat coach car for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The SP assigned number 2226 to the car and used it in regular service for the next seven or so years. Sometime in the late 1950s, the SP sold the car to the Texas and New Orleans railroad who re-numbered it as car 438. In 1961 the Texas and New Orleans sold the car back to the SP who then assigned it number 2365. Like most Budd built cars, coach #2365 was sold by the SP to Amtrak in late May of 1971 when Amtrak was first formed. Amtrak assigned it number 4413. It served as a coach car on Amtrak through the seventies and then was shopped at Amtrak’s Beechgrove Indiana shops in 1980 where it received full 480 head end power or “HEP”. Sometime around 1980 Amtrak again re-numbered it as 4016 but then retired the car in early 1981.


In March of 1981 Amtrak sold coach 4016 to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus for use as housing for Ringling personnel. We assume it was at this time that RB&BBC renumbered the car as RBBX 41406 and assigned it to the red train as car 38. It is our understanding that the car has always served as the residence of the circus band members. We do not know the interior configuration prior to 1997 but we do know that in 1997 the car was shopped by Ringling and seven bedrooms were installed. Entering from the “B” end, single bedrooms seven, six, five and four were on the left followed by the restrooms and shower and HVAC systems built in the middle of the car. Continuing toward the “A” end was single room five and then two larger rooms, six and finally seven.


In April of 2017 all RB&BBC cars were auctioned off after it was announced earlier that year that the circus would be closing down after nearly 150 years of continuous operations. In March of 2017 the circus red train came to Cincinnati for the final time. Cincinnati Dinner Train owners Brian Collins and Bill Thomas were able to visit the consist at Undercliff yard near Lunken airport, and actually cherry pick which car they wanted to bid on for use on the dinner train. Car 41406 was chosen and a bid was placed. In late May it was announced car 41406 had been awarded to the Cincinnati Dinner Train. The process of removing the entire interior down to the bare frame began in early July of 2017. Car 41406 will be remodeled into an entertainment bar car for use on the dinner train. It will replace the current Queen City Tavern car and will provide an improved performance area for the Queen City Sisters as well as a full service bar and increased lounge and viewing areas. The two restrooms in the center of the car will be retained. The newly remodeled car is scheduled to be placed in service on the dinner train in 2018. The 41406 car number will be retained but a new car name of Oasis Tavern has been chosen for the car. We are prohibited by contract to retain the outside Ringling banner name or the outside logo, but plans have some sort of tribute to the circus and its heritage to be displayed inside the car.