The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cream Brook Farm -- Stetson Maine

Cream Brook Farm, recognized as a historic site through Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail, was a 640 acre farm owned by Greenville J. Shaw. Shaw moved from Hartland, Maine to Stetson, Maine. Here he established Cream Brook Farm in 1880.

Excerted from Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail by Clark P. Thompson --

" Most stock farms like Cream Brook had two or more stallions they tried to support with the best broodmares they could afford. In 1881 Shaw added four broodmares from Kentucky to breed to his young stallion "Gen. Withers" (Great Grandson of Hambletonian)." He also purchased the stallion Gideon. "Gideon's fame was about to be secured for all time as his daughter Gretchen had just foaled a June colt at Sunnyside Farm called "Nelson."

For more information regarding Cream Brook Farm and the Trotting Horse Heritage Trail you can purchase Thompson's book by e-mailing

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

North Berwick's Lost Trotting Park

Now privately owned property and used by many as a walking path, North Berwick's lost trotting park is located off High Street, formerly the Sanford Road. To learn more about North Berwick, visit the web page of the North Berwick Historical Society.

Excerpted from the history of North Berwick:

"In the late 1800s, several townspeople founded an agricultural association and an annual fair was held in early September.

The fairgrounds were located on the west side of Route 4, high Street, about a mile out of town. The grounds had a half-mile trotting track, called Pine Grove Trotting Park, for harness racing, complete with a grandstand. it is said that Dan Hurd raised and raced some of the fastest horses there. The remnants of the track may still be seen some fifty yards from the highway. In the 1950s a take out restaurant called the Pine Grove Take Out was located at the edge of the old track.

Premiums were given for crops and livestock the local farmers had produced.

Judge Nathaniel Hobbs, Daniel Hurd, and others were principals in the organization. The fair ran for a number of years, but no recorded information on its demise could be found.

According to Harold "Mundy" Grant, "The Gypsies were trading horses at the fair, but were not allowed into the fairgrounds. They did their business under the pines just off the premises."

Click to enlarge the image!

The Sanford Springvale Historical Society

Harland Eastman was a most gracious host when I visited the Sanford Springfield Historical Society. (Museum Photos) Harland provided me with access to photographs, newspapers, and other memorabilia related to Sanford's and Springvale's lost trotting parks. From his personal collection, he allowed me to photograph fair programs dating back to the 1890's. He also had programs from fairs in Buxton and North Berwick!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Last Lost Trotting Park on Long Island, NY!

Jack Smith of Terryville, New York e-mailed me a few days ago. Jack told me of his mission to save the last lost trotting park on Long Island. If you have any information that would be helpful to Jack e-mail him at

"Just like the state of Maine, New York and especially Long Island, where I am from, was the home to numerous trotting parks. On Long Island they were referred to as driving parks. My interest in all of this is the result of having a driving park still in existence in our community. As president of our local historical society, the Cumsewogue Historical Society, I have made it a mission to not only research the park, but also to have it preserved and saved from development. It is, to my knowledge, the last driving park left on Long Island. It is an amazing survivor on an island where aggressive growth and, at times, unbridled development are the norm.

The track is located in the hamlet of Terryville, where I live. Terryville is a couple of miles south of Port Jefferson, on Long Island's North Shore and Long Island Sound. The track was part of an eighty acre complex called the Comsewogue Training Stable and was owned and operated by Robert L. Davis. He was a well known trainer and conditioner of trotting horses on Long Island and was featured in an article published in The Horse Review in 1895.

My research is in the preliminary stages. So far I have discovered several newspaper articles describing races held at the track, as well as a couple of letters written in 1954 by a man who was familiar with the track during its heyday. A local historical memorabilia collector has an original ticket to the park from July 4, 1892. That was an amazing find! I have a scanned copy of the ticket. I am trying to find other sources who might have some information on this track and would like to find a photo or two. Local libraries do not have anything and neither did the Harness Racing Museum. But I am not discouraged. I will keep looking. I just know some info is out there - somewhere."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Buxton & Hollis Agricultural Society -- Annual Fair 1893

On December 10th I visited Harland Eastman at the Springvale -- Sanford Historical Society and Louis and Lucille Emery from Buxton. In Springvale, I would find both newspaper accounts, photographs, and fair programs for events held at Oak Grove Park in Springvale, Mousam River Park in Sanford, The Society's Park in Buxton, the North Berwick Trotting Park, and the Acton Shapleigh Agricultural Society's Parks. My time with Harland was wonderful. He is a masterful teller of local history. My visit to Buxton took an interesting twist. Lou Emery and my spouse, Nona Libby Thompson, are distant relatives. Nona's great grandmother was Nancy Emery who married George H. Libby prior to the Civil War. Nancy Emery was the youngest of nine children. The images included with this post include the cover of the 18th Annual Fair of the Buxton and Hollis Agricultural Society (1893) and a png file of the Emery Family. Click the image of this family to enlarge it for viewing. The Emery family and the descendants of this family have lived in Buxton since 1796. My assumption is that as you look at the images of the Emery family, you are looking at the faces of family members who attended the annual fairs at the Buxton Trotting Park.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Maine Trotting Horse Heritage Trail Places Marker for Nelson

Clark Thompson, founder of the Maine Trotting Horse Heritage Trail and Bernie Butler place an inscribed granite marker at the Sterling Street Playground honoring the life of the horse Nelson. The playground is part of what was once Sunnyside Farm, the home to Nelson, a champion trotting stallion. The marker was placed almost 100 years to the day of the death of the horse on December 3, 2009. See the following posts for more information.

For more information regarding the Maine Trotting Horse Heritage Trail, e-mail Clark Thompson at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hod Nelson and His Famous Trotting Stallion Nelson

Image courtesy of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, Goshen, New York

Finding Sunnyside Farm -- The White Farm -- Belmont Avenue Property

Hod Nelson advertised in his catalog that his farm was 1.5 miles from the Maine Central Depot. We have yet to locate this piece of property. What we refer to as Sunnyside or the Nelson Farm on the Oakland Road, now Kennedy Memorial Drive, is more than 2 miles away from the depot.
Click this image and it will expand so that you can easily review the material!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly -- Publisher and Editor, John W. Thompson

J. W. Thompson, Editor and Publisher of The Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly; terms, $1.00 Per Annum. Circulation Larger than any Paper in Maine, outside of the Cities; write for Advertising Rates and Sample Copies; Cauton. The wonderful improvement which has taken place in American horse-flesh within comparatively few years, is not the result of accident, by any means, but the legitimate outcome of bard, persistent and intelligent work, and the expenditure of large sums of money. American trotting stock is, as every ordinarily wellinformed person knows, the best in the world, and the steady lowering of the mile record from year to year, proves that the limit of speed and bottom is not yet reached. That the results attained have been brought about by judicious breeding is also generally understood, and that those engaged in this work should be encouraged by the public, is as obvious as that the general average of horse-flesh is continually being raised by such operations. The horse breeders of this State are among the most advanced in the country, and that they form a numerous as well as an influential class, is proved by the circulation of the Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly—their representative paper —being larger than that of any other publication in the State, issued outside the cities. The paper in question was founded in 1879, by Mr. J. W. Thompson, a gentleman who is a recognized authority on all matters pertaining to horses and horse-breeding. He is a native of Turner, Maine, a member of the Free Masons, and is widely-known—aside from his journalistic capacity—as the author of that standard work, " Noted Maine Horses," which was published in 1874. In 1S86, in response to an earnest and pressing demand, a second volume was issued, and the reception given to it has been cordial and flattering, the edition being already nearly exhausted. Mr. Thompson was, for several years, President of the Canton Driving Association, and was unanimously re-elected at the last annual meeting, and to him credit is largely due for the fine Driving Park, conceded to be one of the fastest and best tracks in the State. The Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly is indispensable to all engaged in that industry, and is both interesting and valuable to every lover of the delights of the road and track. It is published at S1.00 per annum, and for obvious reasons is one of the best advertising mediums in New England, especially for goods designed for the use of horsemen. Mr. Thompson acts as Editor" and Publisher, and is ever on the alert to furnish the latest and most reliable information to his readers.

Excerpted from

The Leading business men of Lewiston,

Augusta and vicinity:

By Mercantile Publishing Company, Boston

J.W. Thompson of Canton, Maine

J W. Thompson, Canton, Veteran Musician of Civil War Band

"One of the Best-Known Horsemen in New England. Author of "Noted Maine Horses" and Publisher of Magazine "Maine horse Breeders' Monthly. First President of the Androscoggin Valley Agricultural Society.

-- First to Champion the Pacer --

John W. Thompson, born in Turner, Maine, was an ambitious man throughout his life. Highlights of his life include (1) being a member of the Civil War regiment Company H 32nd Maine. This allowed him to shake hands with President Lincoln just one week before Lincoln was assassinated.

He volunteered for the Civil War as a musician. His first encounter was the battle of Bull Run. John served four terms in two regiments which was "The Regiment That Never Came Back and the Wilderness Campaign."

J.W. Thompson was the author of two books titled, "Noted Maine Horses" and publisher/editor of the "Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly."

He was the president of the Androscoggin Valley Agricultural Association and was responsible for the construction of the Canton Trotting Park. Thompson died in 1940.

 J.W. Thompson in front of his home in Canton, Maine
On the track at the fairgrounds in Canton, Maine

Information courtesy of Norman Vashaw, Canton, Maine

Silas Morse -- Photographer -- Educator -- Entrepreneur

The photographs of Canton were taken by Silas Morse. The images on this web site were developed by Norman Vashaw for his book, "What Was Ain't What is, A Picture History of Canton, Maine."

Silas Rutillus Morse was born in Livermore Falls, Maine on March 12, 1840. Morse was an educator, real estate broker, and a builder, He created New Jersey's educational exhibit for the 1893 Exhibition in Chicago. His success at the exhibition resulted in his being named curator of the New Jersey State Museum.

Morse spent his summers, or rather four month of the year in the State of Maine. He owned the homestead at Brettun's Mills, Livermore; a cottage on Androscoggin Lake in North Leeds, and a nice cottage on Rangeley Lake, where he and his family spent a part of their vacation. He was an avid fisherman.

He resided in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

He died May 23, 1928.

Photography was one of Morse's many gifts and that gift is shared with those who view this blog!

Canton Trotting Park Early 1900's

These black and white images of the Canton Fairgrounds and Trotting Park were developed from glass plate negatives by Norman Vashaw. The photographs were taken by Silas Morse.

Vintage images courtesy of Norman Vashaw.

Canton Trotting Park December 2009

The land where the Canton Trotting Park was located is returning to farm lands. Over the last twenty years, trees have been harvested on the property. When the track was in operation the train would stop at the front gate to let people off to attend the fair, trotting races, or other events at the park. There was a ball field in the center of the park. When Dave Wainwright harvested trees from the park, he could still see the pitcher's mound and the remnants of bleachers. The fairgrounds had several buildings including an exhibition hall.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

At the Canton home of Bob Stevens

Bob Stevens points out to Norman Vashaw the map location of the Canton Trotting Park. When Bob was young, his father drove the first school bus in Canton. Bob remembers his Dad driving the school bus around the track. When Bob was a member of 4-H, he worked with others to turn the grandstands into a boiler house for chickens. This fate was similar to what happened to the grandstands in Monroe.

Antique Map with Canton's Trotting Park

At the end of my visit to Canton, Norman drove me over to Bob Stevens' home. Bob produced this map that shows the location of the Canton Trotting Park.

David Wainwright & Canton's Lost Trotting Park

David Wainwright and Norma Vashaw discuss the location of buildings at the park. They are standing on the opposite side of the track from where the grandstand was located. The woods in the background are at the edge of the far end of the track. The land is approximately 40 acres. David is working the land to return it to producing fields for potatoes.

A Visit to Canton -- J.W. Thompson, Silas Morse, The Canton Trotting Park

On December 1st, my lost trotting park journey took me to Canton, Maine. Canton is the home of J.W. Thompson, publisher of the Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly and author of two books published in the late 1800's on noted Maine horses. Thompson's involvement was key to the development of Canton's trotting park. I first met with Norman Vashaw, who published a book titled, "What Was Ain't What is, A Picture History of Canton, Maine." He also developed in his photographic darkroom, glass plate negatives of Canton that were taken by Silas Morse in the early 1900's. Norman kindly chauffeured me around town. He pointed out where Thompson published his monthly and the house that was once Thompson's home. We then traveled over to Dave Wainwright's farm. Dave owns the land where the trotting park was located. Dave joined us and gave us a tour of the old trotting park. Wainwright is working this land so that in the future he can plant potatoes. After visiting the park, we drove to Bob Stevens' home. Bob is one of the local historians. He shared two maps with us showing the locations of not only the Canton trotting park, but also a trotting park in Buckfield. On the way back to Norman's house, he drove into a field by the river that was once a pony park. Today was a great day! Norman has allowed me to use many of his materials. These will soon be posted to the Lost Trotting Parks blog. I thank Norman, Dave, and Bob for their time!

Friday, November 27, 2009

McFaul Park -- Trotting in Eastport

This was too easy a find. When I spoke with folks in the Eastport Town Office, I was told that this track was actually built in the early 1990's for car racing enthusiasts! The search goes on!

Location of the former trotting Park in Eastport -- McFaul Park. McFaul Park was built by Alexander McFaul.

Newspaper article, September 1893 -- Courtesy of Neplains, Inc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Become a Lost Trotting Park Detective

This post is your invitation to join the Lost Trotting Parks research team. If this interests you. Here is your first assignment! There are probably 100 Maine communities that held trotting races. One way to search for a lost trotting track is by using Google Maps. Enter a town's name and Maine. This will take you to a map or aerial view of the community. Often Lost Trotting Parks have become shopping centers, school yards, parks, or just lost in the woods. You can see examples of lost parks and current locations by reviewing the blog. Following is a list of Maine communities that once had a fairground or trotting park:

Old Town

In Google Maps, take a close look at these communities. See if you can locate the halo of a lost trotting park. Sometimes you may only see a turn in the track that still exists. If you believe you have found a location, using the e-mail option in Google Maps and send me an e-mail at

I will follow-up and get back to you and post findings on the Lost Trotting Parks Blog!

Augusta Trotting Park Tuesday, June 3, 1884

Under the management of Mr. Charles Sylvester, the Augusta trotting park has become one of the best tracks in this section of the State. When he commenced on it the first of the sprint, it was entirely out of repair, was very narrow, and totally unfit for the purpose intended. Mr. Sylvester worked on it for nearly two weeks with a span of horses and several men. The surface was plowed on the outside around the entire course. Afterwards it was rolled with a heavy granite roller, until now it is as smoothe as a floor, of abundant width, and very hard. Previously, the surface was soft and a horse would sink to the fetlock at every step.

Our citizens who are interested in horse flesh are daily speeding their flyers over the track and are highly pleased with it. Many valuable young horses are owned in Augusta. Asa Libby possesses a by mare six years old, sired by Winthrop Morrill, which can show a 2.30 clip. Frank Kinsman draws the lines over a gray gelding by Independence, 6 years old, which is showing fine speed qualities. J.H. Grant's 6 year old gelding, sired by King Philip, is at home when moving at a "40 step." He is also the owner of "Cushnoc," a 5 year old stallion, which is a very promising animal. Charles Cobb drives a very handsome gelding, 4 year old. Chas. Nason is the owner of a bay mare 6 years old, by Sanford Knox, which is generally admired by horsemen.

Mr. Sylvester is doing quite a business training horses for other parties. he is experienced in this line of work, and has been very successful in fitting horses for driving, and the race course.

A race is talked of to take place on the park, the Fourth of July.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Google Earth Image of Canton Trotting Park

Canton, Maine was the home of J.W. Thompson, the editor and publisher of The Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2002 Capitol Weekly Article -- Augusta's Trotting Park History

This article from the Capitol Weekly was e-mailed to me by Lisa Morin, Assessor's Office, Augusta, Maine. Click on image to make it bigger!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hail Columbia! Yankee Doodle


Sunrise. Anvil chorus, Committee, Thos. Larner, H.A. Horseman

7:oo Grant Procession of Zanyites from Wonderland. Fun
Best Exemplification of Character, Worst Horridness. Committee Captain. W.M. Shaw,
Leader, Richard Smith; H.L. Buck, J.F. Furbish. Prises $2.00, $1.00

9:00 Music by Milltown Band, N. Ripley, no charge

9:30 Greased Pole -- Committee, L.R. Horsman, Albert Fitz. Prises $2.00, $1.00

10:10 Damp Polo. Committee, William Mercier, Will Yates. Prizes, $2.00, $1.00

10:30 Canoe Race. Committee. B.F. Chadbourne, Waldo Mercier. Prizes, $2.00, $1.00

11:30 Greased Pig. Committee. Wm. Farrell, Peter Doyle

11:45 Four Foot Race. Committee, H.A. Horsman. J.A. Kneeland

12:00 Dinner. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. Don't Stop Over

1:30 Obstacle Race. Committee. Amos Fenleson, George Mckechnie, Richard Smith

2:00 Games Baseball on the Common. Committee. S.L. Peabody, John H. Rose. Prize. Bat and Ball

2:00 Horse Trot at the Park, Two Races. four to enter; three to trot. Horses taking money in the first race cannot enter for second race. Prizes for each race, $25.00, $15.00, $10.00

4:00 Horse Running at the Park. Prizes $3.00, $2.00

4:30 Egg Jump, on the Common, Committee, Chas. Spooner, W.E. Gould. Prizes $1.00, $0.75

4:45 Sack Race. Committee. W.R. Dresser, Chas. Spooner, Prizes $2.00, $0.50

5:00 Half Mile Run on Main Street. Committee, D. T. Belmore, Thos. Larner, John McMann. Prize, $1.00

5:15 Wheelbarrow Race. Committee, Abner Leland, James Finley. Prizes $1.00, $0.50

5:30 Tug of War, opposite Post Office, Committee, Waldo Mercier, James M. Heath. All Haul

6:00 Supper Strawberries and Cream

7:00 Rest

8:00 Dance in Town Hall
Norman Horsman, Marshall

Copy of newspaper article courtesy of Rachel Hamilton

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fort Fairfield's Lost Trotting Park

The trotting park in Fort Fairfield was located at the end of Park Street by the River. Park Street was a left off lower Main Street.

The Kennebunk Driving Park 1891

In the 1890s, the trotting park in Kennebunk was called the Kennebunk Driving Park. The park fell into disuse, but was revived in the 1920s and called the Kennebunk Trotting Park. The park was located on the left off Fletcher Street when leaving town. Today, the park location is the home of one of the Maine Turnpike's maintenance garages. This Google Map's aerial view shows the location of the maintenance garage next to the turnpike.

Archivist, Rosalind Magnuson, at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk will be conducting further research on the park. The Brick Store Museum is located at 117 Main Street, Kennebunk, Maine.

Note the small turn in the tree line just beyond the pavement in the parking area of the maintenance garage. This may represent what is left of the outline of the track.

Patten's Lost Trotting Park

Local historian, Rhonda Brophy, is gathering information and images about Patten's Lost Trotting Park. Rhonda believes the park was located off Route 159. On the left of Route 159 as you leave town, you will see a small gravel pit. Above that pit you can see in the trees what appears to be the halo of a half-mile trotting track.

Milo's Lost Trotting Park

Although not yet confirmed it appears that the lost trotting park in Milo is located off Route 11 and to the upper right of the Evergreen Cemetery. Local historian Gwen Bradeen is gathering materials on this park and its location.

Items courtesy of the Milo Historical Society

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Princeton Fair by Maurice Richards


First Row: L to R -- Harold White, Taylor Pike, Porter Pike
Center: Thomas White, Manager
Second Row: L to R -- Archie Bushaw, Hod Bryant, Hod White
Tom Elsmore, Lester Fitch, Edward White


In 1932, I took a walk to what was once the old fairground.The wire fence that once enclosed the area was buried in the grass and bushes.

At each end of the half mile race track, the outer edge was elevated, this being the only evidence that this had been a fairground. That race track was entirely grown up with trees and bushes.

The grandstand under which one of the churches served meals had fallen and decayed -- the same for the judges' stand and the exhibition building.

The Princeton Agricultural Fair was established in 1885 with Oscar Pike, President; Saunders G. Spooer, Treasurer; Horace Buck, Charles A. Rolfe, and Charles Clark, committee members. The fair flourished for a few years and then petered out.

In or about 1910, the fair was organized under the name of the Princeton Agricultural Society. Irving R. Sprague, secretary for the old fair, was chosen president/secretary.

There was some good horse racing. John Mercier owned a fast horse named Lightfoot. In his last race, Lightfoot broke an ankle on the home stretch. This horse was replaced by Miss Lightfoot.

I remember one large horse that would go the half mile track because the driver couldn't hold it, while the others returned for another start. On the word "GO" this horse would break on the one-quarter, even with another driver, yet it would be first under the wire.

There were two merry-go-rounds, side by side, each playing a different tune. I worked in the secretary's office near the merry-go-rounds and it seemed as though I could hear, "Put on your old gray bonnet", and "When you wore a tulip", all night in my sleep.

Many people came by train and from distant farms. They came by team bringing picnic baskets stowed under their seats.

There were water sports at the fairground bordered the south shore of Lewey's Lake. Porter Pike and Peter Lewey were the cleverest on the log rolling. The greased pole was fastened to a scow and extended over the water. One chap made a running slide barefoot sliding sideways, dropped into the lake and won the pig. There were horse swimming races as well as canoe races. The Indians usually won the latter. Ferd Lawler was clever on the horse swimming.

For an extra attraction one year there was a balloon ascension. The plan was for the man to land or parachute into the lake. He wore a heavy life preserver, but the wind carried him South, and he had to stay aloft until he was over an open field.

Each afternoon of the three days was a good ball game. The baseball diamond was in the midway of the race track. When a good batter was up, he was encouraged by fans to "Lake It" or put the ball over the exhibition building just above the lake shore. This would be a home run with time to spare.

Thomas White, a Civil War veteran was the manager of the Princeton Nine, Lester Fitch and Porter Pike were pitchers, while Harold White and Taylor Pike were catches. Being very tall, Hod White played first base.

The fair did well for about three years, but insufficient stock being sold at the beginning caused the society to run short of funds and finally close. In later years this lake shore property was used by lumber companies.

Article by Maurice Richards
Information collected by Vernon Wentworth and Donna Worden, Princeton Public Library
Others contacted were Alden McPike, from Waite, Mike McDowell, formerly from Princeton, and Rachel Hamilton, a current resident of Princeton.

Lakeside Trotting Park Princeton Maine

Buxton's Lost Trotting Park

Buxton's lost trotting park was located at the corner where Narragansett Trail and the Old Orchard Beach Road meet. The track was only one-third of a mile. Authorized trots were held there in 1885 and 1890.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Danforth's Lost Trotting Track

Google Maps' aerial view of Danforth's Lost Trotting Track!

Gorham's Lost Trotting Park

Route 112 runs through Gorham's Lost Trotting Park!

Lost Trotting Park in Monroe, Maine

Find the halo of the one-half mile track in Monroe, Maine. The grandstands were purchased and transformed into a chicken coop!

Enterprise Stock Farm Augusta Maine

Enterprise Stock Farm is situated in Augusta, ME., two miles from the Kennebec Bridge on the river road to Waterville; it is a large farm, with abundant pasturing, beautifully located, and well adapted to the raising and developing of fine horses, being handy to the Augusta Driving Park, Railroad, etc. Stud Horses: Bon Burlie, son of Alcantara, and Marimuth, one of the best bred grandsons of Smuggler. W.P. O'Brien, Proprietor and W.s. Lamson, Superintendent.

-- Courtesy of Kennebec Historical Society --

1885 Trotting Results

Copied from Nov. 28, 1885 issue of The Spirit of the Times -- Trotting results from Belfast, Cornish, Vinalhaven, Buxton, and Monroe. The Buxton track was one-third of a mile. Courtesy of Michael V. Henricksen. Click image for larger view!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lost Trotting Park in Princeton Maine

Check out this Google Map image of Princeton, Maine! The Park was located just off the South shore of Lewy Lake between Rolf Street and West Street.

Alden McPike, formerly from Waite, Maine and Mike McDowell, formerly from Princeton, Maine, assisted me in locating the park.

Lost Trotting Park in Jonesboro

Check out this Google Maps' image! Could this be the former location of a trotting park in Jonesboro!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trotting Park Road Lowell, MA

Check out Trotting Park Road in Lowell, Massachussetts, We have a road, but no park! This is obviously one of MA's Lost Trotting Parks!! Follow the road and see where it goes.

Note: I was searching for the trotting park in Princeton, Maine. Somehow I was directed to Lowell, Maine which was actually Lowell, MA. So there are even lost trotting parks in Massachussetts!!

The Lowell Trotting Park was located on the Lowell Fairgrounds on Gorham Street. You can see the evolution of the area through maps:
It is seen on the 1879 Sanborn Insurance Atlas of Lowell (plate W), and the 1896 Lowell Atlas (plate 12) as the Middlesex North Agricultural Society Fair Grounds. By 1924 the City of Lowell owned a large parcel of land, but no track is seen, as the area was beginning to be developed (plate 7A). The Fairgrounds were dedicated in 1860 and disappeared by 1920. It was used as a training ground for local regiments during the Civil War.
As for Dracut, I could only find a passing mention of the Trotting Park on Trotting Park Lane in a history of the Town. It simply said that there is a granite marker on that road located south of the Old Trot Park.

The Google Maps image shown above represents a trotting park that was originally part of Dracut, MA. This Google map image will take you to the Lowell trotting park location that was at one time located by the railroad track and Fay Street. Compare the Lowell Map and the Google Map image.

Courtesy of the Lowell Historic Board, Lowell, MA -- Map and information provided by Kim Zunino

Oak Grove Park, Springvale -- Mousam River Park, Sanford

"The Sanford Agricultural and Mechanical Association built Oak Grove Park, Springvale, and conducted agricultural airs thereon for a number of years. The Association has dissolved, and the park was sold. Mousam River Park, Sanford, as conducted by the Sanford Fair and Trotting Association, which, although in a state of inactivity, is still in existence."

Excerpted from the History of Sanford, Maine 1661- 1900 By Edwin Emery, William Morrell Emery

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crooked River Driving Association -- South Harrison

Does this Google Maps' image represent the lost trotting park in Harrison, Maine? Newspapers reported that a trotting park existed that was operated by the South Harrison Driving Park Association. If you have any related information, please e-mail Stephen Thompson at

This track is located in Harrison where the Deer Hill Road and the Norway Road met.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lost Trotting Park on Vinalhaven

According to the Bangor Daily News and Courier, Friday, January 19, 1900, a Mr. Armbrust of Vinalhaven along with other horsemen offered a large price to purchase a horse named "Little Fred."

HORSE TROTTING By Sidney L. Winslow
Horse trotting seems to have been a favorite winter sport,1ocal1y, in the olden days but died quite suddenly in the late 1890’s and in the nineteen hundreds we saw them no more.
Time was when such sportsmen as Ben Carleton, Luther Crockett, Sam Randa11, Henry Patterson, A1 Mudgett, Joe Ty1er, Silas Trundy, Jim Armbrust, 0.G. Weeks, Ben Graffam, Joe B1ack, Herb Sanborn, Fred S. Walls, Frank Calderwood, Arthur Dutch, Herman Robbins, Dr. B.H, Lyford, James 0. Carver, Fred Snowman, Bert Vinal, Emery Ladd, James Carlin and others took it upon themselves to see that Vinalhaven did not lack for this sport just as soon as the ice was strong enough to permit it.
In the early years it mattered not whether it was a driving horse or a work horse that was entered for [he race; in fact, the chances are that there were but few horses in town that were kept for driving purposes only.
It is recorded that at one time Sam Randall borrowed Mr. O.H. Lewis’ horse James, a horse that was used for hauling Mr. Levis' tin pedlar's cart about town, entered him in a race and won three straight heats.
The above was not James’ first race, however, for he had won many arace in times agone when driven by his owner, Mr. Lewis, whose urge to the horse for greater speed was a very light touch of the whip and the softly spoken command, "Proceed, James" and to which, 'tis said, the faithful old James never failed to respond.
During the summer months of the long ago , the horses were raced on the level stretch of road near Indian Hill, so called, and which even today is referred to as the Trotting park.
Horse trots were very popular affairs during the 1880’s and every community of any size had its trotting park or race track.
The stretch of road used for that purpose loca1ly was inadequate for the purpose, so there soon came the talk of building a new track. The idea soon became an urge and in short time the dream became a reality.
Vinalhaven’s Trotting Park
The Trotting Park, 1884 to 1909, was the work of the young men of Vinalhaven, who after working nine or ten hours at granite cutting, fishing and other work, built a trotting park on the road to North Haven opposite the watering trough. They smashed boulders, huge rocks, cut bushes and cleared the land for a race track. There was great enthusiasm for harness racing from 1884 – 1909. In the winter the same men raced with sleights on Carver’s Pond and Old Harbor Road. Occasionally sleigh racing was held on the main street, as far as the “Block at the Fountain.”
Young women sometimes participated in the Main Street sleigh races driving their own horses.
Note: Many of the finest sleighs were manufactured at the State Prison in Thomaston. The November 1893 “Prison News” stated, a half-dozen covered sleighs are being manufactured for the winter demand.
At the Vinalhaven Trotting Park, the purse in the 2.45 class was $75.00. Entries were from Belfast, Rockport, Hope, Lincoln and Vinalhaven. There was a $50.00 purse in the 3.00 class and in the free-for-all the $185.00 purse was divided. Entries were from Rockland, Camden, Belfast and Bangor. The fare for the trip including admission was $0.75.
The last race in Vinalhaven was held in 1909 with J.S. Black presiding as a judge.
Vinalhaven Town Census: In 1891 there were 110 Smiths, 59 Areys, 51 Hopkins, 47 Vinals, 38 Carvers, 33 Lanes and 31 Roberts.
In 1892 there were 67 Calderwoods, 69 Browns, 44 Dyers, 38 Coombs, 49 Youngs, and 40 Vinals.
Image downloaded from Microsoft Terra-Server.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Horse Auction at Windsor Fairgrounds Monday, October 26, 2009

The auction of Maine Sire Stakes Horses featured Maine Sire Stakes Eligible Yearlings, Weanlings, 2 and 3 Year Olds and Broodmares.

Trotters on the Kennebec

Hallowell Register, January, 1906 --

"The ice track has been cleared on the Kennebec and all horsemen are cordially invited to "try out" their steeds on the enticing surface." Kennebec Central Driving Club sponsored Thursday races such as the free-for-all, .29 trot and .33 pace on the half-mile by 80 foot wide racetrack. Prizes were awarded in bushel of oats and betting was discouraged. "No money is to be made . . . . the ardent wish of all concerned." Competitors came primarily from Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardiner with horses named "Billy J", "Gray Pointer", "Miss Greywood", and "Chub". Races started at 2:00 p.m. sharp (no waits for late comers), the free-for-all being first, with "Bike" sulkies debarred from the course. January ice race brought exciting time to Hallowell during the down days of winter.

Courtesy of Sam Webber, Historian, Hallowell, Maine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sylvan Park -- Machias' Later Trotting Park

Sylvan Park -- Machias' second trotting park (Google Maps Aerial View)

Riverside Park -- Machias, Maine (Endangered)

Riverside Park in Machias was built around 1860. According to current owner of the property, Chris Sprague, the clay track was considered the fastest track in Maine. Today the location of the track is threatened by being flooded. There are plans by environmentalists to remove dikes and flood this area. Chris Sprague is in the process of revitalizing the track in order to exercise horses.

-- Images courtesy of Chris Sprague, Machias, Maine --

Riverside Park -- Machias

Aerial view of location of Riverside Park in Machias, Maine (Google Maps).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Anson Maine Trotting Park

Click to see Google Maps aerial view of the trotting park in Anson, Maine.

In 1848 was incorporated the West Somerset Society, the show of which was held alternately at Madison and Anson. Within a year or two they have purchased and enclosed grounds at Anson, and the exhibitions are well attended. The North Somerset, which completes the list, was incorporated in 1856.

"This Society now embraces 223 members, 31 new ones having been added during the past year. Its Annual Exhibition was held at Anson, on the 3d and 4th days of October.
Since our Show last year, this Society has made rapid progress. We have secured a show ground and trotting park upon a beautiful spot of twenty acres, well enclosed with a high fence, permanent fixtures for stock, and one of the best trotting tracks in the State.

Track and Stable Gossip.
Fred D. Moore of North Anson has sold his mare, Lena S (by Cylex) to Harlow of Boston.

The North Anson Trotting Association has purchased the West Somerset Agricultural Grounds and will have some good trots here this season.

One of the finest brood mares in North Anson is the dark bay mare owned by Geroge Flint. She is by Fred boone by Daniel Boone, dam by Wilkes Knox by Gilbreth Know. This mare is eight years old and stands 15.2. Mr. Flint raised her and she has been bred four times to St. Croix and in every instance getting fine colts. Here first product was St. Croix Jr, (2.19 3.4) as a four-year-0ld.

Article Courtesy of Neplains, Inc.

-- Notes from the Anson Historical Society (Emily Quint)
There was a trotting park in the Anson village and in the North Anson village - both are legally Anson. Between 1945-1855 they were legally separate towns. So I'm assuming you're looking for the south Anson village trotting park that is now an apartment complex.

The North Anson trotting park is on the 1883 map (page 8) of the Old Maps of Southern Somerset County Maine in 1883. It is in the upper right hand corner of the map (cemetery and park (trotting park) are near. The current Carrabec High School is located on the trotting park property. Kenton Quint donated the property for the school.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Camden Trotting Park Association

This year the Camden Trotting Park, owned by the Camden Trotting Park Association, opened with a most successful celebration on July 4. This park has an excellent half mile track, and is the only park in the state having a sub-way entrance. It has since been the scene of. many successful celebrations and races and for a number of years several successful and interesting fairs were held there. 1901/1902

Taken from History of Camden and Rockport, Maine By Reuel Robinson 1907

Canton Maine Trotting Track

This Google Map image shows an aerial view of location of a trotting track in Canton, Maine. According to the Wallace's Yearbook authorized races were held in Canton between 1885 and 1930.



Rumford, Me., Sept. 24. -- An attendance of 9000 at the Canton fair Thursday listened to music by the girls' band and the boys' band of Rumford and saw some exciting races. The five-mile motorcycle races was won by Turner of Wiscasset in 6 minutes 20 seconds.

The Harness Racing Summary:

Togo (Richards) . . . . . . . 1 1 1
Slow Joe (Gammon) . . . . . . 2 2 2
Alien Bell (Childs). . . . . .3 3 3
Traveler (Snow) . . . . . . . 4 4 4
Time -- 2.31 3-4, 2.29 3-4, 2.25 1-2

2.20 CLASS, MIXED -- Purse $150
Dexter R. (Archibald) . . . . 1 1 1
American Blossom (Tarbox). . .2 2 4
Babe Himore (Metcalf) . . . . 5 3 2
Alfred Nelson (Briggs) . . . .4 4 3
Donald L. Also Started
Time -- 2.20 1-4, 2.20 1-4, 2.31 3-4

2.20 TROT AND 2.25 PACE PURSE $150
Ralph Wilkes (Jordan) . . . . 1 2 1 1
Bon Ami (Hayden) . . . . . . .3 1 2 2
Peter Pan (Wilkins) . . . . . 2 3 3 3
Chester B . . . . . . . . . . 4 4 4 4
Time -- 2.21 1-2, 2.20 1-4, 2.21 1-2, 2.22 1-2

Article courtesy of Neplains, Inc.

Cherryfield Trotting Park

Click to see an aerial view from Bing of the trotting park located in Cherryfield, Maine.

The Google Maps aerial view provides an outline of the track with an old mapping of Park Street.

The Cherryfield trotting park held authorized almost every year between 1904 and 1930.

Daily Kennebec Journal, Thursday, September 14, 1916


Cherryfield, Me., Sept. 13 --
The West Washington County Fair opened Tuesday with an attendance of about 2000 persons, good weather and a fast track. The races were all exciting with bunched finishes in nearly every heat. When swinging into the stretch the first heat of the 1.18 Class, the roan gelding Lucky Baldwin, owned by Charles Co___ of Calais and driven by Walter Haley., who was leading the field, suddenly, slowed up and fell dead on the track of heart disease. The horse was a well-known campaigner by Vassar, with a mark of 2.19.

Article courtesy of Neplains, Inc.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trotting Park in Bridgton Maine -- Outline of Possible Track Behind Hospital

Authorized trotting races were held for many years between 1885 and 1930. Take a look at the Google Map image? Was the former track located behind the hospital in Bridgton?

Daily Kennebec Journal -- Friday, August 16, 1918 --

Bridgton, ME., Aug. 15 -- More than 3000 saw the races Wednesday at the annual fair. Parlor, owned and driven by James Hennessey of Boston, outclassed the 2.30 stake field. Cheerful Charlie won the opening heat of the fast class, when Mud Lake came along in front in the next two, this even being carried over to Thursday along with the 2.25 class,with Miss Eva twice a heat winner.

2.12 Class, Mixed Purse $300, Unfinished -- Mud Lake (Schuman) won two heats; Cheerful Charlie (Johnson) won one heat. Best time, 2.16 1/4 by Cheerful Charlie

2.30 Trot, Purse $350 -- won by Parion (Hennessey); Peter Jay (Mayberry) second; Russ W. (Jack) third.

2.25 Class, Mixed, Purse $250, Unfinished -- Miss Eva (Carpenter), won two heats; The Lassie (Whitredge) finished second in each. Best time, 2.19 1/4 by Miss Eva.

Article courtesy of Neplains, Inc.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trotting Park at Lee, Maine

From History of Lee, Maine by George J. Varney 1886 --
Lee is a small town in the eastern part of Penobscot County, on what is called the “Upper Route" twm Bangor to Calais, 60 miles from each city. It is bounded on the north by Winn, east by Springfield, and west b Lincoln. Much of the hind is of excellent quality, and bore originally a dense growth of the hard woods, with hemlock, spruce and pine. In the southern part of the town are several ponds, the largest being Mattakeunk (area, 1,000 acres) and Ware ponds, the head of the Passadunmkeag Stream. Lee village, the chief centre of business, is situated on Mattakeunk Stream, near the pond of the same name, where there is a good water-power. There are here two sawmills—one a board, shingle and grist-mill, a tannery, and wheel, tinware, and furniture factories. Near the village is a good trotting park, where fairs are held. The nearest railroad station is that of the European and North AmericanRailway at Lincoln village, 12 miles west of Lee village.
From Noted Maine Horses, Volume 1 by John Wallace Thompson --
Gen. Jackson – Dapple brown stallion, with small blaze in face, 15 ½ hands high, and weights 1000 pounds, foaled May 14, 1868, bred by Ira C. Harmon, Lee, Me., got by Humphrey horse, he by Sherman Black Hawk, dam, Nellie, by Col. Crockett, he by Old Col. Crockett. July 4, 1873, at the Lee Trotting Park, in a race with Paddy, he won in straight heats, the fastest being 2.53. Afterwards a match was made between them and trotted at Bangor, in which Gen. Jackson was beaten, being in an unfit condition. Mr. Harmon sold him, in the fall of 1873 to Fred Jordan, of Old Town.

Click this link to see the former location of the Lee Trotting Park today!

Additional research on the Lee Trotting Park will be completed within the next year.