The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The 1/2 Mile Track in Shapleigh

This information comes from the History of Acton 1980.

The Shapleigh and Acton Agricultural Society was organized on June 16, 1866. The first fair and cattle show was held on October 16-17 at Acton Corner. At a meeting June 1, 1867 it was voted to hold the fair in Shapleigh that year and that the members of the Society in Shapleigh prepare a track for testing the speed of horses at their own expense. At a meeting on November 16, 1867 a committee reported on two possible places for a permanent place for the fairgrounds. One piece of land of James H. Hurd on the road leading between the ponds, near the town line dividing Shapleigh from Acton contained about 30 acres which could be bought for $150. The other lot in Acton owned by David Dame containing 15 acres which he would sell for $150.

On August 27, 1868 the committee was authorized to contract to build a trotting course with suitable buildings for holding the fair in Acton for the present year and members to have the same privileges of building in Shapleigh for next year and alternately each town for the next 10 years, with the Society having the right to purchase said trait and buildings at any time the Society may vote to purchase same. The fair was held in Acton on October 20-22, 1868. It was held at Shapleigh Corner October 19-21, 1869 and again in 1871. On November 2, 1871 a meeting was held at the Baptist Church in Emery Mills in regard to buying up Shapleigh and Acton lots and purchasing a Central lot. The David Dame land at Rogers Corner was examined - 1/2 tract without grading and 1/2 with grading, west side, $150. There was a great diversity of feeling with the owners of the two parks. The 8th Annual Fair was held in Shapleigh on October 14-16, 1873 and the 9th in Acton on October 13-15, 1874. The records are missing from 1874 to 1889.

Thats all that I have found - my only concern is that when I read the description of the James Hurd land, I'm not positive it is what we now call Shapleigh Corner. It appears that it might have been where the intersection of Routes 11 and 109 meet at the foot of Mousam. Click to see a Google Maps aerial view of this track's location. In the woods, you will see the faint outline of a 1/2 mile track. An authorized race was held on this track in 1875.

Courtesy of the Acton Shapleigh Historical Society -- Debbie Peterson

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunnyside 1920 through 1940

Sunnyside Farm was foreclosed upon by the City of Waterville due to delinquent taxes. The A.F. Hutchinson Land Company from Portland acquired the property and designed Nelson Heights. In 1924 Fred Hallett purchased the lots with the home and barns. This property was then known as the Flagg Farm. The posted image is cropped from the Nelson Heights Plans and shows the lots purchased. At a later date, the property was sold to a party named Violette. The house was torn down around 1955.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Capital Park -- Augusta, Maine

Today Augusta's Police Station and new YMCA stand upon the ground where trotting races were once held at Augusta Park. The park was built in the 1850's but became a victim of the times and was converted to a general recreational park in the 1920's. By clicking on the image, you will see an early postcard depicting the trotting park and a racing program from 1894.

Sunnyside Farm -- Proprieter Charles Horace Nelson 1882 to 1915

After many months of researching deeds, city maps, and other documents, we found Sunnyside. In the end, it was through networking that we found most of our answers. Sunnyside Farm was a trotting horse stock farm owned by Charles Horace Nelson. He owned the farm from 1882 until his death in 1915. Today the land where a fine residence with three horse barns once stood is located between Nelson Street and Carver Street off Kennedy Memorial Drive (formerly the Oakland R0ad) in Waterville, Maine. Bernie Butler, who was born on Sawyer Street in the 1930's, has provided us with key information. His cousin, Bill Flagg, actually lived in an apartment in the residence. In the 1930s into the 1940s, the property was owned by Fred Hallett. According to Bill, the property was known to be the Nelson Farm. To the right of the residence was a large barn. As a child, Bill was told that the barn was once a large stable for horses. The barn was converted into a garage.

Sunnyside Farm was the home of the champion trotting stallion, Nelson, the last horse to hold the world high wheel trotting record. This famous horse was named to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in 1994. Nelson is the only Maine bred/trained horse to earn such high distinction. Nelson's fastest time was 2.09 which he trotted at Rigby Park in South Portland, Maine. Image of Hod Nelson courtesy of Neplains, Inc.

Sunnyside Farm -- Residence & Location

Maine's Official Race Dates and Places

This compilation of Maine's Official Race Dates and Places identifies the locations of Maine's lost trotting parks. Click on this image and it will become full-sized. Data excerpted from Harness Racing Images through Postcards and other Memorabilia. Courtesy of George F. Petredean. If you have information regarding one of the trotting parks listed here please contact Stephen Thompson by e-mailing or call 207-242-7774.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Maine Fairs 1907

This week I visited the Colby College Library to obtain copies of the obituaries of Charles Horace Nelson, Emma Nelson, and the horse Nelson. On September 10, 1907, the Central Maine Fair honored Nelson and his horse. Nelson Day as it was called was a huge success. In fact, Nelson Day made the front page headline for the September 11th Issue of the Waterville Sentiental. In addition, the September 11th issue provided a list of Maine Fairs. The list follows:
Aug. 15-17 -- Cornish Fair Association, Cornish; August 15-17 -- Waldo County Fair, Belfast; August 22-25 -- Easter Maine State Fair, Bangor; August 29-31 -- Orrington Fair Association, Orrington; August 29-31 -- Princeton Agricultural Association, Princeton; August 29 - Sept 1 -- Central Maine State Fair, Waterville; August 29-Sept 1 -- Houlton Fair, Houlton; Sept 4-7 -- Maine Agricultural Fair, Lewiston; Sept 5-7 -- North Penobscot Fair Association, Springfield; Sept 5-8 -- Northern Maine Fair Association, Presque Isle; Sept 14-14 -- Waldo and Penobscot Fair Associatoin, Monroe; Sept 12-14 -- West Washington Fair Association, Cherryfield; Sept 12-14 -- Oxford County Agricultural Association, South Paris; August 12-14 -- Aroostook County Fair Association, Caribou; Sept 12-14 Eden Town Fair, Eden; Sept 16 -- Embden Fair Association; Embden; Sept 19-25 -- Unity Park Association, Unity; Sept 15-21 -- Cumberland County Fair Association, Gorham; Sept 19-21 -- North Franklin Fair Association, Phillips; Sept 19-21 -- Androscoggin Valley Agricultural Association, Canton; Sept 19-21 -- Machias Valley Agricultural, Machias; Sept 26 -- Richmond Farmers' Club, Richmond; Sept 26-28 -- Lincoln County Agricultural Association, Damariscotia; Sept 26-28 -- North Knox Agricultural Association, Union; Sept 26-28 -- West Oxford Agricultural Association, Fryeburg; Sept 27 -- Cochmewagan Agricultural Association, Monmouth; Sept 27-28 -- Cumberland Farmers' Club, West Cumberland; Sept 27-28 -- Grangers' Fair Association, Saco; Sept 28-29 -- Northern Oxford Fair Association, Andover; Oct 3 -- Greene Town Fair Association, Greene; Oct 3-5 -- New Gloucester and Danville Fair Association, Upper Gloucester; Oct 3-5 -- Bristol Agricultural Association, Bristol; Oct 3-5 -- East Somerset Agricultural Association, Hartland; Oct 4 -- Tranquility Grange Agricultural Association, Lincolnville; Oct 10-12 -- Sagadahoc County Fair Association, Topsham; Oct 12-14 -- Four County Fair Association, Pittsfield; Nov 14-16 Maine State Pomological , Portland; Nov 22-24 -- Freeport Poultry Association, Freeport; Dec 3-6 -- Shapleigh and Acton Fair Association, Acton; Dec 5-7 -- York County Poultry Association, Sanford; Dec 12-15 -- Maine State Poultry, Portland; Jan 2-4 -- Western Maine Poultry Association, South Paris; Jan 17-19 -- Bangor Poultry Association, Bangor; No Dates Set -- Solon Fair Association, Solon -- Piscataquis County Fair Association, Foxcroft -- Somerset County Agricultural Association, Anson -- Calais Fair Association, Calais -- Berwick Poultry Association, Berwick -- North Ellsworth Farmers' Club, North Ellsworth -- Bridgton Agricultural Association, Bridgton -- Little Rigby Park Association, Casco -- South Kennebec Agricultural Association, Windsor.

These fairs represent an era in the State of Maine that may soon be forgotten. Within the next year, these communities will be contacted to see if we can gather any details or images that will show activities at these events. If you or someone you know can help us in this endeavor, please e-mail Stephen Thompon at or call 207-242-7774.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trotting Park in Exeter Maine

Brucine in action as a four year-old. Won First Premium at the West Penobscot Agricultural Society's Fair. Also won First Premium at the Central Maine Fair in 1912.

Trotting Park in Exeter, Maine!

Click here to see Google Maps image of the lost trotting park in Exeter. Look closely and you will see the outline of the track above the Exeter Road.

Wyman Park 1924

The first Hancock County Fair with harness racing was held at Wyman Park in Ellsworth, Maine in 1924. This link will take you to an an aerial view of land at the end of Fairgrounds Road in Ellworth. The image at right is an image of a 1924 poster promoting the fair. (Source for image unknown)