Saturday, February 27, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Greg Wilkinson kindly provided us with a 1908 postcard promoting trotting at the Andover Fairgrounds. I combined the postcard image with the aerial view of the fairgrounds. This image is available for T-Shirts! Contact Steve at email@example.com if interested. All revenue helps support our research!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I appreciated Norman Vashaw's initiative contacting Bob Spidell in Andover. Bob provided us with a wonderful aerial view of the Andover Fairgrounds and trotting park. On Bob's recommendation, I contacted Beverly Swan, President of the Andover Historical Society. Today I had a brief yet informative conversation with Beverly. When the weather warms, Beverly will go to the historical society to gather information.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Each time Bernie Butler calls there always seems to be a new twist to the story of Nelson. This is the story of Nelson's grave marker. Bernie was in his woodworking shop when friend Bo Carey dropped by. Somehow the topic of the horse Nelson bubbled to the surface. This post presents a storyboard describing Nelson's lost grave marker.
So today Bernie and I visited the Drummond Graveyard and the site of Costly's foundation. No marker to be found! If the marker was there, it may have been taken away or it may be buried in the ground. Perhaps we need to dig into this a bit more.
If you know where Nelson's marker is located, let us know!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
While attending the January Conference of the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs, Melissa Conner told me about a trotting park in Newfield, Maine. Yesterday, Greg Wilkinson attached to an e-mail a racing card from the Ramshackle Park Association.
-- Google Maps Aerial View of the Trotting Park --
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The Clark Horse Review's engraving of Nelson is a rather striking image of the horse. I created this storyboard highlighting the image that celebrates Nelson's performance at Kankakee! Image courtesy of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, Goshen, NY.
This post includes a storyboard designed from the cover of Clark's Horse Review along with its companion article. At the end of the article, it is stated that the owner of Nelson will send a photograph of the horse to the Review for a future article. I wonder if the S.S. Vose photograph was the one sent to the Review.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
As one of Maine's Lost Trotting Parks, the fairgrounds of the East Oxford Fair Association requires us to take notice. Not only was the Canton track considered one of the fastest, Canton was also home to J.W. Thompson, the publisher and editor of the Maine Horse Breeders Monthly and the books, Noted Maine Horses, Vol. 1, Vol. 2.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The North Franklin Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1852. In 1877, the Society authorized trotting on both days of the fair.
Denny Atkinson, President of the Phillips Historical Society spent many hours compiling newspaper articles and other items related to Phillips' lost trotting park. I thank Denny for his work!
There will be additional posts on this park in order to share information from the newspapers, race cards, and programs.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
On Saturday I traveled to Phillips to visit the Phillips Historical Society. My host was Denny Atkinson, President of the Phillips Historical Society. Denny had taken several Saturdays to go through newspapers and other materials at the Society researching Phillips' lost trotting park. It was a most enjoyable morning that stretched into the afternoon. This post features several rooms that have been developed by the Society.
The Society owns Maine's second largest collection of Portland glass and one large room dedicated to railroad memorabilia. For persons interested in railroads and life around 1900, the Phillips Historical Society should be one of your Maine destinations.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
A wide diversity of soils is found in this town so that almost every crop that can be successfully cultivated in this latitude has been and is to-day grown successfully within our limits. On the river below the city the soil is light and sandy, while on the "neck" so called, it is underlaid by a slaty ledge which lies very near the surface and often crops out. On the Messalonskee the soil is clayey, but all is strong and productive, and yields the best of crops.
Waterville was fortunate from an agricultural point of view in having among its early settlers a goodly number of men of means who were agriculturally inclined. As a result of this good material there was a desire manifested very early in the life of the struggling young town to have an agricultural society organized, and this agitation resulted in the North Kennebec Agricultural Society, which was incorporated by the Maine legislature July 31, 1847, and its first exhibition was held in Waterville in October of that year. The annual address, which in those days was a very important part of an agricultural exhibition was delivered by Dr. E. Holmes of Winthrop. The original limit to this society included the towns of Fairfield and Smithfield in Somerset county, Waterville, Belgrade, Winslow, Clinton, Sebasticook now Benton, China and Albion in Kennebec and Unity and Burnham in the county of Waldo, from the records of the society from its inception, now before me, kindly loaned by Mr. Geo. Balentine, I find that the officers chosen at the organization of the society were as follows, Samuel Taylor, Jr., president; Ebenezer H. Scribner and Thomas Fowler, vice-presidents; Harrison A. Smith, secretary; Joseph Percival, treasurer and collector; Stephen Stark, agent; William Dyer, librarian ; Samuel Taylor, Jr., Asher Hinds, Sumner Percival, John F. Hunnewell and Reuben H. Green, trustees. A glance through the subsequent elections shows that the society kept up its prestige for selecting men of ability and influence as its officials. We would like if space would permit to give the entire list of officers, but must be content with simply naming a few of the number who held the office of president of the society. After Samuel Taylor, Jr., the first president, came Sumner Percival, E. H. Scribner, Robert Ayer, Thomas S. Loring, Isaac W. Britton, Col. Isaiah Marston, Daniel Jones, B. C. Paine, Joseph Percival, and many others of equal calibre.
One of the first acts of the society, even before it had a home was to raise $75 for the purchase of standard agricultural works for a library. This indeed was starting an agricultural society on a firm enduring foundation, and the vote and the class of gentlemen who were invited to give the annual addresses gives us a good insight into the makeup of the men who formed this organization. In 1850 we find by the records that the society voted to send a petition to the legislature for a State Board of Agriculture, showing that at that early day even, they realized the need of a state organization around which they could build their local society. One of the votes recorded a half a century ago also gives a hint of the old time urbanity that prevailed in those days, also the appreciation of the power of the press in the efforts of this organization. Here is the vote: "Voted to instruct the secretary to furnish the proceedings of this meeting to the public press."
One of the strange things about the records of this society, wonderfully well preserved as they are, is that great pains was taken to record the list of premiums offered with the committees of awards, but no record was kept of who won the prizes. This omission will readily be seen as a serious defect as the historian of to-day is unable to pick out the names of the successful exhibitors, as he might have done had the list of the winners been recorded. But one vote recorded is worthy of more than a passing notice, and that is where the trustees vote that unless an animal exhibited possesses superior merit no awards shall be made to such animal, but if the owner desires, a statement shall be made and published that such an animal was the best one shown at the exhibition. Let the average agricultural fair manager think for a moment what the commotion would be if such a rule should be enforced by one of our Maine societies to-day, and yet who shall say that it would not have a salutary effect on exhibits as well as exhibitors.
If space would permit, we could fill the entire limits of this book with interesting data taken from the records of this society. One item that catches our eye is a vote of thanks passed at a meeting of the trustees October 4, 1859, to Col. Thomas S. Lang for his liberality in always giving to the society all purses won by his horses, and as the record adds, "He ever strove to win all the prizes that he could in order that the society might be the more benefited thereby."
In January, 1854, it was voted to appoint a committee to ascertain what grounds could be secured for a track, and upon a favorable report the grounds located in the southern part of the city were purchased and a fine half mile track constructed thereon. Later this track was leased to the Waterville Horse Association for their annual exhibition. The original lease of this property is pasted in the records before us, and is well worthy a word of attention. We think only one of the men whose names are upon it is alive to-day. It bears the signatures of Ira R. Doolittle, J. A. Judkins, Gideon Wells, T. S. Lang, J. L. Seavey, Foster S. Palmer, Asher Savage and Ruel Howard, and is dated August 22, 1863. We think Mr. Savage is the only survivor of this list of notable men of their day. This horse association was short lived and only lasted a few years, just how many it is difficult to ascertain as we have been unable to find any records of the society whatsoever.
The North Kennebec Agricultural Society survived the drain upon it made during the War of the Rebellion and gave successful exhibitions each year until the early '8o's, when owing to the multiplication of societies in the nearby towns included in its original territory, the interest began to decline, until finally the annual fairs were given up and the track leased to private parties and the property was finally sold for the enlargement of our present beautiful cemetery.
-- Excerpted from The Centennial History of Waterville --
Note: Hod Nelson leased the track to train his horses. From 1887 to 1897 he owned the fairgrounds. He sold the fairgrounds to the City of Waterville.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Today I called Lincoln to speak with Jeanette King. When her husband George came home, Jeanette told me that her husband knew more than she did about the parks. George and I talked for about 10 minutes. After supper I checked my e-mail and George had sent me copies of antique maps from 1875 that indicated where trotting parks were located. Check out the storyboards on Carroll and Lincoln. Descriptive text will be added at a later date.
The Kings are members of the Lincoln Historical Society.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Holding the painting of Nelson by W.A. Treat is Richard Nelson, the great-great nephew of Hod Nelson, the owner of the trotting stallion Nelson and the proprietor of Sunnyside Stock Farm that was once located on the Oakland Road (now Kennedy Memorial Drive) in Waterville. We are fortunate that the Maine State Museum purchased this painting at auction through the Poulin Auction Company in Fairfield, Maine. It is a guarantee that the painting will be publicly held and not owned by a private collector.
It is the only oil painting of Nelson that is currently available for public viewing. In the background, the painting presents the only known images of the buildings of Sunnyside Farm. This painting dates to 1888. The painting may have been commissioned by Hod Nelson. According to the story told at the auction, a descendant of Nelson sold the painting at auction back in the 1980s. Mary Beal bought the painting and it has been in her home until now. To our knowledge the painting has never been available for public viewing.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
On December 4, 2009, Clark Thompson, founder of Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail and Bernie Butler, resident of Sidney, Maine, placed a granite marker at the Sterling Street Park in Waterville, Maine. This marker recognizes Nelson, Maine's most famous stallion trotter. December 4th marked the 100th anniversary of the stallion's death. 100 years ago, the horse was buried on Sunnyside Farm beside a tall pine tree on December 4, 1909.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
As the Lost Trotting Parks Blog has evolved it has become an ever growing research endeavor. For me work needs to fulfill a passion and at the same time contribute to a greater good. This work fulfills those requirements -- truly this work is the pursuit of a worthy ideal.
To fund this work, I am creating a nonprofit organization called, The Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center.
This Center will focus on preserving the history of Maine's Lost Trotting Parks, agricultural fairs, and the people, places, and horses making up the harness racing industry. To accomplish this trotting park researchers will work closely with local historical societies, museums, state agencies, local governments, agricultural fair organizers, horse breeders, and representatives from the harness racing industry.
To do this right, it will take effective coordination, collaboration, and communication. Plus time!
The nonprofit is in process. In the meantime, I have created t-shirts with vintage images that I an offering for sale. Revenues from t-shirt sales will pay for the cost of t-shirts and then research expenses. The t-shirts are made in Los Angeles by American Apparel and the images are printed on the t-shirt right here in Maine. -- Made in America -- Made in Maine!
As part of the blog you will note the addition of two PayPal buttons -- one for the purchase of t-shirts and the other for donations. Any revenues from these sources will be used to reimburse expenses and if necessary, to purchase Maine trotting horse memorabilia. All items purchased will be donated to the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center.
Your financial assistance will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your interest and visiting the LTP Blog.
My best to each of you,
Stephen D. Thompson
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The Maine Association of Fairs held their annual meeting at the Holiday Inn by the Bay on January 28, 29, and 30, 2010. As an associate member I displayed the research to date of the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center. In the exhibit area, I talked with many who were interested in the lost trotting parks and actually helped me locate and actually relocate several of the lost parks.