Small roadside attraction and restaurant here in Dubois has two of the last Ringling Brothers circus cars. The circus may have taken down the tent, but it can still be experienced in a different way.
Doctor Jeff Rice- loves train cars. “all i wanted was one caboose,” says Rice.
However, his love has since evolved into owning 14 of the. They’re all located on the lot of his restaurant The Depot at Dolittles” in Dubois. “This to me is a piece of history,” says Rice.
Tucked away in the back are two new additions. The last rail cars from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. “This was the last rail car in existence to travel the circus route i figured it should be saved,” explains the owner. He received the cars in a bid, which he learned about through a friend.
Left behind inside are the memory of the people who once amazed audiences for more than 150 years. “That’s what more or less brings people in, the more rich in history it is,” explains manager Todd Jones.
“This is where people would more or less spend their lives,” says rice, as he goes from room to room in the second train car.
For the circus performers it was pretty tight living quarters, but construction will begin this fall turning it into a bed a breakfast, creating a more roomy attraction. “You’ll be able to see how they lived. For the most part, we’ll have minor changes to them to benefit the whole bed and breakfast aspect,” explains Jones.
Each room expected to have a different theme- with true artifacts inside. All fit for families. “If he likes elephants he can stay in the elephant room. If he likes clowns- or not afraid of clowns- he can stay in the clown room,” laughs rice, as he explains the clown room would not be for everyone.
As construction begins on the train cars- Rice says he’s not quite finished with his collection just yet. “I don’t have my large steam engine yet, haven’t found that yet.”
All proceeds made from the bed and breakfast will go towards non profit charities- including one doctor rice has created himself- which helps third world countries. Rice hopes it will be up and running by next summer.