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Perhaps not the most auspicious mascot to have at the opening of a new train line

Cover of a book about Jumbo

When the first Green Line train pulled out of Medford/Tufts early yesterday morning, somebody dressed in a furry elephant suit was onboard.

It would seem to make sense, since Tufts's mascot is Jumbo, named for the giant elephant whose stretched out skin P.T. Barnum for some reason donated to the school after the elephant died.

The thing is, Jumbo died getting hit by a train.

As Maclean's described in great detail, after a performance in St. Thomas, Ont. one night in 1885, Jumbo was being led back to his specially outfitted boxcar in a small yard next to the main line of the Grand Trunk Railroad, when a freight train came roaring down the tracks. Jumbo was only about six feet from safety, but it was six feet down an embankment and he refused his trainer's entreaties to go down the embankment:

He trumpeted so loudly the sound could be heard in the big tent above the brassy clamor of the band, and started to run wildly down the track. There was no escape to the right, because the long circus train on the siding blocked his way like a wall. On his left there was an embankment which dropped abruptly about six feet to a clear and open level space. Scott tried to get him to swerve and go down it to safety, but Jumbo paid no attention. He was more afraid of stumbling and falling on the steep slope than he was of the onrushing train, and with Scott running frantically beside him he sprinted away from it along the main line as fast as he could go.

The train hit him and pushed him against the circus train and he died soon after, his trunk wrapped around his trainer's hand.

Also, the train derailed after hitting the 6 1/2 ton Jumbo.

Image from the cover of the Life and Death of Jumbo, which Barnum published after his death.



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Wow Adam way to break my heart

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Even more Jumbo history at:

The mummified tail of Jumbo is available for viewing at the Tufts Archives. Once you've seen it you can't unsee it...

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circuses with animals, gross things that hopefully disappear forever.

thanks for this history.

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Ringling Bros. - Barnum & Bailey Circus used to come to the Garden (both the original, and the current one) every year.

They parked their long circus train on a siding of the Grand Junction railroad in Cambridge, between Albany and Vassar streets, west of Mass. Ave. They paraded elephants and other circus animals down Mass Ave in front of MIT, then up Memorial Drive and over the Charles River Dam (Museum of Science) bridge to North Station, where a special elephant ramp was used to bring them into the Garden. That ramp's slope had to be below a certain maximum value, or else the elephants would refuse to climb it.

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Were on a side track at Quonset a few weeks back.

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