The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trotting at West Gardiner Lewiston Evening Journal 10/16/1889

Trotting at West Gardiner (Adapted)

The Kennebec Farmers and Stock Breeders' Association will have another day's trotting at Merrill's Driving Park, West Gardiner, on Thursday, october 17th. For the free for all class a purse of $100 will be given, and for the 2.50 class, $25.

Horses included Garfield, Almont Patchen, Hector, Gray Victor, Hulda, and Dr. Neal in the free for all class. In the 2.50 class, horses included Billy S., Draxy, Jocco, King Phillip, Watchmaker, Jr., John L., and Jack Witham.

NOTE: Following is a description of a road race. If you can help us retrace the route contact Stephen Thompson at We plan to revisit and videotape the route.

At 10 o'clock a.m. first in order will be a scrub race open to all trotting and pacing horses, from the new Mills Bridge to Spear's Corner, round the square to Horse-shoe Pond Bridge, through Litchfield to Burnham Bridge and to Merrill's Corner. the celebrated horses Gen. McDuffy, John L. Sullivan, Harry Goodblood and Alcryon and many other good ones are entered.

The colt race will also be in the forenoon. The 50 class and free-for-all will be started at 1:30 p.m. The race will be mile heats with 5 to harness.

Lewiston Evening Journal Article courtesy of Clark P. Thompson. Posted and adapted by Stephen Thompson.

Old Orchard Beach Kite Track 1892-1907 --- 1936-1950

Millard F. Porter conceived the idea of building a mile racetrack in the marshland off Portland Avenue. He formed the Breeder Mile Track Association with other local hotel owners and businessmen, and a kite-shaped racetrack was constructed on hard clay. Horsemen competing here called it the fastest track in the world.

Lovers of light harness races came here for one the races from all over. A quasi-legal form of betting took place in hotes and at the track, but enthusiasm and attendance waned and at the kite track was idle by 1907.

In 1935-1936 a new group led by Fred Snow had the track resurfaced with hundreds of tons of clay and reopened pari-mutual wagering. Old Orchard Beach became a stop on the Grand Circuit featuring the fastest horses in the country. World records were set here.

In the first half of this century racing was as much a social event as a business. Horses arrived by train at the Old Orchard Beach freight station and were walked to the racing grounds. Flags flew, bands played, and it was an exciting time for everyone!

The final day of racing was July 3, 1950. The grandstand and othere buildings were soon razed and the famous track was recaptured by nature as marshland.

In 1975 the Wildlife Department bought a 600-acre tract including the racetrack with the intention of maintaining it as a wildlife management area.

Text courtesy of the Old Orchard Beach Historical Society

Kite Track (Breeders Mile Track) Old Orchard Beach

The Kite Track at Old Orchard Beach -- 1892 to 1950 Courtesy of OOB Historical Society

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Trotting Tracks in Pinehurst, North Carolina


This year Libby and I ventured to North Carolina for school vacation. We visited our friends in Carey and together we travelled to the Outer Banks. At the same time, my cousin Clark and his wife Judy were visiting family. Clark had scheduled time in Pinehurst, NC to see friends who were training trotters at the Pinehurst trotting parks. My friend Phil and I drove the sixty-six miles to Pinehurst to see my cousin and the trotting tracks.

The first track is actually two tracks: a 1/2 mile and 5/8 mile. The second track is a full mile track. The tracks are owned the city of Pinenhurst and operated by the city's recreation department. If not owned by the city, these tracks would probably fall into the category of 'lost trotting parks.'

The tracks are used by horse men and their trotters until 1:00 pm. After 1:00 the community uses the tracks as walking parks.

Perhaps there is a lesson for us as we lose more open space to development. Trotting parks are typically prime real estate. Just maybe we need to look at preserving and celebrating our past, then to encourage real estate development that might possible occur elsewhere.

Stephen Thompson