The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is selling its circus train.
The NCDOT, long before COVID-19, back when the economy was booming, was found to have overspent its budget by an estimated $2 billion.
One result of that deficit is that the state legislature ordered the NCDOT to sell some surplus property, which includes the circus train it has owned for three years.
When Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus went out of business in 2017, it no longer needed its train and the NCDOT stepped right up and bought nine cars. The one small problem that the NCDOT had evidently overlooked at the time is that despite the fact that this is a large state with over 10.5 million people and all sorts of parks, recreational, sports and entertainment facilities, the state does not have a circus.
Not having a circus, the NCDOT discovered after purchasing the train for $383,000 that it had no use for a circus train with the cars specifically altered to transport a circus.
So the circus train has been sitting on unused railroad tracks in Nash County for the past three years and might have sat there forever, except for the action of the state legislature.
Now after three years the NCDOT is somewhat reluctantly selling its circus train. If the train cars sell for the asking price the state would make money, that is if you don’t consider the storage fees for nine railroad cars for three years.
But here the NCDOT has run into another problem. So far in the 11 days the circus train has been up for auction, there hasn’t been a single bid on a single car. The minimum bid for eight of the cars is $45,000, and one car is $55,000 for a total of $415,000.
No doubt eventually someone will come along and buy the circus train, but time is running out because the auction closes on Jan. 4 and as is noted on the auction site the state surplus property office is closed Dec. 24 through Dec. 28 and Dec. 31 through Jan. 1, and no extra time is allotted for those holidays.
It also should be noted for those interested in viewing the circus cars before making a bid that the cars are (some would say hidden) deep in the woods in Nash County and it is about a mile walk down the unused tracks to view them. Interested parties are warned that they travel at their own risk, but if you have always wanted a circus train car and have an extra $45,000 at this point you can have your pick.
If you’d like to bid here is the link, Circus Train.