This past January, I went to see the movie, The Greatest Showman and I was really captivated by it. I wondered if the Barnum and Bailey Circus train has ever come to Huron and if so, what it was like? I decided to reach out to people on Facebook to see if anyone knew. I stumbled across a lady named, Jeanne Bauder (Smith).
As a young girl, Jeanne was always intrigued by trains. Her father, William S. Smith Sr. worked for the Chicago Northwestern Railway as a passenger conductor. Growing up she often got to tag along with her dad. “I was snoopy,” she said. One of her favorite memories was when the Barnum and Bailey Circus train would come to town. “It looked like any other train but, there were animals inside,” she added. Jeanne and her father watched as the animals were unloaded on the east side of the fairgrounds, then led to the big tent. After the circus was over, they would go watch them be reloaded. At that age Jeanne thought that she had the neatest dad in the world.
As she grew older her love for trains also grew. She eventually owned a caboose that she displayed in her backyard. Whenever Jeanne and her dad would see a train he’d always tell her that he’d buy her a caboose someday. Unfortunately, her dad never had the chance, but Jeanne’s husband Herman was able to honor that wish. The caboose later was taken to the 1880 Museum in Hill City, SD.
After meeting Alex Atkins, the young man in the cover story (p.6), and learning about his love for trains, I just knew he had to meet Jeanne! Her home is full of train memorabilia and Alex was very ecstatic when he saw all the trains in her home. He was full of lots of questions.
It was really neat to see two people from different generations and walks of life share such a unique passion.