This day in 1864: A Fearful Scene

from the Gallipolis Journal – August 14, 1862

circus_tent_monongahela_gallipolis_journal_August_14_1862A Fearful Scene – During the late exhibition of Van Amburg’s menagerie at Monongahela City, Pa. a fearful and exciting scene occurred. It appears that shortly after the audience had assembled, a terrific storm arose, which tore the canvass into rags, and threatened serious injury to the spectators.

While the Storm King roared and revelled, one of the huge tigers got out of his cage which added terror to the scene. The vast assembly swayed from side to side, first to that part of the tent which has been blown off, and then to the main entrance, Some jumped from the top of the seats out through the opening between the top and the circular inclosure; others cut themselves a passage through a canvass, and all rushed with alarm for any place of escape, preferring to brave the storm to taking their chance for life amid the crushing timbers and furious wild beasts. Women shrieked for help, and children cried; strong men looked pale, and taking the confusion of the multitude and the raging of the storm, the scene was fearful and appalling. The keepers of the animals stood by the cages of these wild denizens of the woods and jungles with anxious looks. The man who kept the elephant Hannibal stood in front of the huge brute, with his hands upon his tusks as pale as a corpse. One of the lions had partaken of the excitement, and by his glaring eyeballs, erect posture, and extended and flowing mane, gave an idea of how he looks in his native forest.

The tiger which had escaped from his cage was driven back by Mr. Van Amburg into a cage with this lion, and the king of the woods had put his huge paw upon him, and was holding him tight upon the floor, Nature, grand and terrible, was on exhibition at the show.

After some moments of fearful confusion the storm ceased, and the audience separated, but not until several had been injured from being trampled on and bruised in the general confusion which prevailed.

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