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Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus / 1918 Circus Train Wreck

Location: Ivanhoe South Nature Preserve, Colfax St., just off US 12/20 near Cline Avenue, Gary (Lake County), Indiana 46406

Installed 2022 Indiana Historical Bureau, Filmmaker Charles Williams, Gary Historic Preservation Commission, Ronald Trigg, Raylene Swinock, Barbara Speer, and Local Supporters

ID#: 45.2022.1


Side One

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus

The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, organized in 1907, became one of the largest and most recognized shows to tour the United States. Resembling a small city, by 1918, it featured over twenty tents, 1,000 workers and performers from numerous countries, and hundreds of trained wild animals. The circus performed in over 100 cities each season before wintering in Indiana.

Side Two

1918 Circus Train Wreck

On June 22, 1918, the engineer of an empty military troop train fell asleep and crashed into a Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train near here. An estimated eighty-six people died and over 100 others were injured. Aid from neighboring towns and other national shows allowed the circus to finish the season. Despite the wreck’s magnitude, railroad safety was slow to improve.


Transportation;  Arts & Culture