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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.

Additional Reading

strates poster Circus CarnivalTrainsRGB 1024x1024

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.

Video

 

Rolling Stock Roster

As lightweight passenger cars replaced heavyweight cars, the same road number was typlically assigned.

The JESX reporting mark was not in use until 2003 [Larry Smith].

Under "Years Active", dates in parenthesis indicate dates of known photos, for differentiating eras of cars with identical road numbers or where dates on/off roster are not known.

Road #   Years
Active
Type   Notes  
JESX 1 (1963) Passenger Car  STRATESVILLE heavyweight observation-sleeper used by Strates family. 
(1978)  WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. lightweight 
(1995-96)  ANDERSON SOUTH CAROLINA lightweight 
JESX 2 (1967) Passenger Car  SYRACUSE heavyweight 
(1978-81)  RALEIGH NORTH CAROLINA lightweight 
(1995-2015)  SYRACUSE NEW YORK lightweight 
JESX 3 (1963) Passenger Car  RALEIGH heavyweight 
(1983)  SYRACUSE NEW YORK lightweight 
(1996)  HALLANDALE FLORIDA (ex-Illinois Central; ex-Royal American Shows) Mod. HW coach (P2678-class) converted to crew car. 
(2005)  GAITHERSBURG MARYLAND 
JESX 4 (1963) Passenger Car  YORK heavyweight (ex-Atlantic Coast Line #1116; Seaboard AIr Line #4115; Royal American Shows)
(1981)  YORK PENNSYLVANIA lightweight 
(1995-2005)  ALBANY GEORGIA 
JESX 5 (1963) Passenger Car  HAMBURG heavyweight 
(1983)  LANDOVER MARYLAND lightweight 
(1995-2004)  WINSTON-SALEM NORTH CAROLINA 
JESX 6 (1963) Passenger Car  CLEARFIELD heavyweight 
(1978) Diner  HAMBURG NEW YORK lightweight. Also called the "pie car".  
(1990-2013) Flat Car  
JESX 7   Passenger Car  #7 (1st) HAMBURG, NEW YORK, heavyweight (ex-PRR sleeper buffet lounge BE observation JAMES FRANCIS JONES, built 1949, P-S, 2DR-1C-1DB, ex-#8975 , ex-PRR #842). [The PRR did not have a car #842. Furthermore, PRR #8975 was a plan 3410A 12-1, built in 1926 and tranferred to MoW service in 1962.]
   #7 (2nd) (ex-Long Island RR #2926, built 1955, P-S, class P72 120 seat non-MU coach).
(1975)  ORLANDO FLORIDA lightweight 
(1989-2008)  HAMBURG, NEW YORK lightweight. (ex-PRR sleeper-loung-observation WILLIAM WALLACE ATTERBURY, built 1949, P-S Plan 4134, 2DR-1COMP'T-1DB, sold 1967. James E Strates renumbered to 8975 by 2015.) 
JESX 8 (1963) Passenger Car  DANVILLE heavyweight 
(2008-11) Flat Car  
JESX 9 (1963) Passenger Car  SHELBY heavyweight 
(2009-10) Flat Car  
JESX 10 (1963) Passenger Car  ROCHESTER heavyweight 
(2009-10) Flat Car  
JESX 11 (1963) Passenger Car  SAVANNAH heavyweight 
(1981-2010) Flat Car  
JESX 12 (1963) Diner  Heavyweight. Also called the "pie car". 
(2009)    Flat Car  
JESX 13 (1967-2010) Flat Car  
JESX 14 (1963) Passenger Car  IONIA heavyweight 
(1999-2010) Flat Car  
JESX 15 (1999-2011) Flat Car  
JESX 16 (2009-11) Flat Car  
JESX 17 (2009-11) Flat Car  
JESX 18 (1978) Baggage Car  ALBANY GEORGIA lightweight mail-baggage car used as a generator-workshop car. 
(1989-2011)  Lightweight fluted mail-baggage car used as a generator-workshop car. 
JESX 19 (1999-2010) Flat Car  
JESX 20 (1987-2010) Flat Car  
JESX 21 (1965-2013) Passenger Car  Lightweight observation used by Strates family. Former Chesapeake & Ohio business car #21. 
JESX 22 (2009-13) Flat Car  
JESX 23 (2009-11) Flat Car  Ex-TTX. 
JESX 24 (2008-11) Flat Car  
JESX 25 (2007-10) Flat Car  
JESX 26 (1996-2016) Flat Car  
JESX 27 (2009-13) Flat Car  
JESX 28 (2007-10) Flat Car  
JESX 29 (1967-2013) Flat Car  
JESX 30 (2008-11) Flat Car  
JESX 31 (1978-2011) Flat Car  
JESX 32 (2007-12) Flat Car  
JESX 33 (2009-15) Flat Car  
JESX 34 (2009-10) Flat Car  
JESX 35 (2009-11) Flat Car  
JESX 36 (2008-11) Flat Car  
JESX 37 (2008-16) Flat Car  
JESX 38 (1987-2013) Flat Car  
JESX 39 (1996-2015) Flat Car  Ramp car. 
JESX 40 (1999) Flat Car  
JESX 41 (2009-10) Flat Car  
JESX 42 (2009-11) Flat Car  
JESX 43 (2009-11) Flat Car  
JESX 44 (2009-16) Flat Car  
JESX 45 (2009-10) Flat Car  
JESX 47   Stock Car  
(2009-16)  Flat Car  
JESX 48 (2008-13) Flat Car  
JESX 49 (1989) Flat Car  
JESX 49   Stock Car  
(2008-10) Flat Car  
JESX 50 (2008-11) Flat Car  
JESX 51 (1996-2020) Passenger Car  HARRINGTON DELAWARE heavyweight. Ex-Illinois Central coach acquired from Royal American Shows. 
JESX 52 (1990-2008) Passenger Car  HARRINGTON DELAWARE lightweight. Ex-Atlantic Coast Line coach acquired from Royal American Shows. 
JESX 53 (1989-96) Caboose  
JESX 54 (1989-2010) Flat Car  Ex-TTX. 
JESX 55 (2008-10) Flat Car  
JESX 56 (1995-2011) Flat Car  
JESX 58 (2008-13) Flat Car  Ex-TTX. 
JESX 59 (2008-13) Flat Car  
JESX 61 (2007-11) Flat Car  
JESX 101 (2012-18) Passenger Car  Lightweight acquired circa 2012. 
JESX 102 (2012-18) Passenger Car  Lightweight acquired circa 2012. 
JESX 103 (2012-14) Passenger Car  Lightweight acquired circa 2012. 
JESX 104 (2012-18) Passenger Car  Lightweight acquired circa 2012. 
JESX 114 (2011)  Passenger Car  
JESX 8975 (2015) Passenger Car  JAMES FRANCIS JONES. Former PRR sleeper-loung-observation WILLIAM WALLACE ATTERBURY, built 1949, P-S Plan 4134, 2DR-1COMP'T-1DB, sold 1967. James E Strates #7 1989-2008. 
JESX 80718 (2018)   Flat Car  

 

Paint Schemes

Rolling Stock 

Late 1930s:

 Pullman Green with Gold Leaf Lettering

1950s:

  • Passenger cars had orange letterboards, white window stripe and orange below. The lettering was blue with the car number in a blue circle.
  • Flat cars were orange with blue lettering.

IMG 4165

JEX 1950s

Early 1960s: IMG 4166
Mid-1960s-1970s: IMG 4167
 As early as early 1970s: IMG 4168
 As early as late 1980s: IMG 4170

 As early as 1996:

  • Red background for car numbers and JAMES E STRATES SHOWS.
  • City in gold lettering over red stripe.
IMG 4171

As early as July 1995:

  • Simplified red scheme.
IMG 4173

 1999 - Feb. 2008:

  • Blue background for car numbers and JAMES E STRATES SHOWS.
  • City in dark lettering over red stripe.
IMG 4172

 April 2008:

  • Simplified blue scheme.
  • Car names were dropped.
JESX 51 S

Wagon Paint Schemes

Through 1961:

Red with White, then Silver lettering

IMG 4175

IMG 4174 

Through 1970s:

Duke Ash multi color and designs

IMG 4176

Through late 1970s:

Red with yellow oval and red number and generators, cream with multi colored lettering.

IMG 4177

1980s into the 1990s:

Basic white with stripes

IMG 4178

Mid 1990s:

Various pastel colors

IMG 4181
 

Photo Album

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Museum James E Strates Train Heavyweight Coaches 1953 2385 
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strates shows carnival poster v2 2344
2325  

The Strates Show in York, Pa., during the 1950s:

strates york