PENNSYRR.COM by Jerry Britton

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Strates Shows, America's only railroad carnival, travels the United States during a seven-month season, transporting personnel and equipment with 61 rail cars and 34 trucks. Traveling with the show are some 400 employees and families who operate the many rides, games and concessions.

Strates Shows has a history dating back to 1923 when James E. Strates, a Greek immigrant, began his first show. Mr. Strates came to America in 1909 and, like many immigrants, worked at a number of odd jobs. In 1919, he joined a carnival athletic show as a wrestler taking on all challengers. In 1923, James E. Strates acquired Southern Tier Shows and in 1932 changed its name to James E. Strates Shows. Mr. Strates continued to build and manage the carnival until his death in 1959. At that time his son, E. James Strates, assumed responsibility for the carnival and still operates it today.

Strates Shows are known to have ridden the rails of the Pennsy during the era being modeled.

General Info:



The Train:

Train Car Roster

Makeup of Trains

Train Car Paint Schemes

Photo Album - Trains

My HO Scale JES Train Model


The Wagons:

Wagon Paint Schemes 

Photo Album - Wagons



Throughout these pages you will see [references] to the source of information. The following are those sources.

  • Biniasz, Marty -- Current employee of JES; admin of the James E. Strates Shows Midway & Train Modelers, Collectors and Enthusiasts FaceBook group.
  • Dillman, Jim -- Former JES employee.
  • Goldsack, Bob -- Author of The James E Strates Shows: A Pictorial History.
  • Hall, Bill -- Former Trainmaster for JES.
  • Pullman Project -- Tom Madden's extensive project recording the history of Pullman cars.
  • Smith, Larry -- Writing a book on the JES.
  • Yanosey, Robert -- Author of Circus and Carnival Trains In Color.


FaceBook Groups:

I am aware of three FaceBook sites relating to the Strates trains and midway...

Strates Shows

Official Page

James E. Strates Shows Midway & Train Modelers, Collectors and Enthusiasts

Official Group

James E Strates Shows

Official Group


Additional Reading:

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The James E Strates Shows: A Pictorial History, by Bob Goldsack. 108 pages. Midway Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-880545-08-X.

Circus and Carnival Trains In Color: A Fond Look Back at Their Equipment and Operation, by Robert J. Yanosey. 128 pages. Morning Sun Books, 2021. ISBN 1582487650.