The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Knox Trotting Park -- July 6th Celebration

Greg Wilkinson of Auburn, Maine has been collecting fair and trotting horse memorabilia for many years. Greg has graciously agreed to share images from his collection.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Did a Trotting Park Exist in Rockland on Limerock Street?

In a telephone conversation with Gil Merriman who is a volunteer with the Rockland Historical Society, I learned that there might have been an old trotting park on Limerock Street in Rockland, Maine. This storyboard shows the possible location. As more research is done, we will discover if there was a trotting park in Rockland.

Knox Trotting Park -- Thomaston, Maine

Peggie McCrea from the Thomaston Historical Society kindly gathered the information and images that had been collected over the years.

1869 May 28 Rockland, Maine Newspaper Article from Sandy Delano

There will be a trot at this park
On Saturday, June 5, for the following
Purses: Purse of $50., $30 to the first,
And $20 to the second. This purse is
For all horses that never trotted for
Money. Also that day, a purse of $50
For any horse that will trot the nearest
To three minutes.
All entries must be made previous to
Friday, June 4 at 5 o'clock. To J.T. Berry
Of this city or Sanford Delano of Thomaston.
Mr. Delano who has leased the park for
Five years, has made improvements and in the
Course of a few days will have a first class
Hotel, to accommodate all with meals who visit
The park.
Mr. J.M. Reed, a celebrated horse trainer
May be found at the track from this time, ready
To take charge of horses for all persons who
Wish to fit their horses for the turf.
Taken from 1877 Business Ads:
Knox Trotting Park
First Race – 2:50 Class
Purse of $80 for Horses that have neber beaten 2:50; $35 to first; 20 to second, 15 to third; 10 to fourth

Second Race – 2:40 class
Purse of $125 for Horses that have never beaten 2:40: $60 to 1st; 35 to 2nd; 20 to 3rd; 10 to 4th
Admission: Gentlemen 35 cents; Ladies 25 cents, Carriages Free

From 1885 Jul 1 Thomaston Herald

The horse trot at Knox Trotting Park tomorrow and Saturday ought to draw out a good crowd. Some good horses have been entered and a very successful set of races may be expected. Admission 50 cents. Carriages free.

In a 1913 Inventory: Clara Black - ¼ Knox Trotting Park - $500

Friday, March 19, 2010

Clips from Rigby -- Action on the Track 1898

E.C. Jordan Engineering Plans for Rigby Park

Last week I drove to South Portland to walk Rigby Park. As Kathy DiPhilippo and I carefully stepped our way through the bog and Rigby Park ditch, we wondered where park patrons got off the train. We wondered where were the stables located, the grandstand -- the buildings of Rigby. Clark Thompson had told me that E.C. Jordan was the engineering firm that worked with the builder. The phone directory actually listed E.C. Jordan. I called and a health lab answered the phone. I then checked with the City of Westbrook and found out that E.C. Jordan had gone out of business 20 years ago. My mind went into random -- I started called engineering firms in the Portland area. My second call provided me with the correct lead. An engineer informed me that E.C. Jordan was bought out by an engineering firm 20 years ago. This firm was also bought out. This firm went out of business. One of the engineers at this company, Owen Haskell, took over the collection of E.C. Jordan paper. Haskell formed a Falmouth based engineering firm. He is now retired, however, the firm still retains his named, Owen Haskell, Inc. I called and spoke with Janna. Janna informed me that they did indeed have the E.C. Jordan archives and would take a look to see if there were any plans related to Rigby Park. On Wednesday of this week, I received an e-mail from Janna with three attachments. The three storyboards with this post are the E.C. Jordan plans for Rigby Park. I thank Owen Haskell, Inc. for sharing these plans through the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Opening Day at Rigby Park

The Building of Rigby Park
Excerpted from
A History of Cape Elizabeth, Maine by William Jordan

"Under these circumstances a considerable degree of interest was aroused in 1891 when it was revealed that a professional track was to be build in Cape Elizabeth. Under the auspices of the Maine Mile Track Association the construction of a mile track on the site of what is now the Rigby Rail Yard was contemplated. Among the early supporters of the track were the racing enthusiasts General Charles P. Mattocks and John F. Haines. The association was duly incorporated, with capital stock of $25,000 to sell at ten dollars per square. Approximately 85 acres of land was purchased with shares of stock from H.N. Jose, south-east of Skunk Hill, now Thornton Heights.

Actual construction of the track was entrusted to Seth Griffin of Joliet, Illinois. His experience in the building of rack tracks was very extensive, having constructed the mile track at Nashville, Tennessee, the Ha-Ha Track at Minneapolis, a half-mile track for William Rockefeller at Greenwich, Connecticut, and the track at Narragansett Park, Providence, Rhode Island.

In constructing the track at Rigby Park, as it was to be called, Griffin utilized a system that was perculiarly his own. After excavating the bed of the track, he took tough fibrous turf, cut in pieces about a foot square and laid them edgewise, closely packed, throughout its entire length and breadth. On top of the turf foundation Griffin spread a four inch surface of loam that would pack down, producing ultimately a tenacious spongy mat so essential to the faster tracks of that era. A high water table was necessary to retain the springy quality of the track and was easily achieved at the Rigby site. When finished it was oval in shape with curved ends of seventy rods each in length, the straight sides being ninety rods each in length. This track was considered by Griffin to be his masterpiece, the "acme of tracks," as he expressed it.

The stables were constructed early in 1893 by Henry Soule of Portland. The first to be build was 240 feet in length and 40 feet in width, with the side facing the track two stories in height to accommodate offices and waiting rooms. Three more stables were soon added raising the total number of stalls to one hundred. Approximately 125,000 board feet of lumber were consumed in the construction of these buildings."

News Clippings for the Rigby Park Storyboards
courtesy of Clark P. Thompson,
Founder of Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail

Grand Horse Fair at Rigby Park

Views of Rigby Park

Permission to use theses images of Rigby Park were given by the South Portland Historical Society. The images are owned and copyrighted by the Society. Contact the Society for permission to use these images.

Directum Defeats Nelson at Rigby Park

Rigby Park Now Forgotten -- A bog between the PanAm railroad tracks and the Rumery Industrial Park

Opening day at Rigby Park was in 1893. The last races were held in 1899. In 1900 Rigby Park was boarded up. All the buildings were demolished by the end of 1903

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking the track at Rigby Park

On Saturday, my wife Libby and I traveled to Portland for the day. We drove over to the Rumery Industrial Park so I could show her where Rigby Park was located. We decided to walk the tracks to see what was on the Rigby Yard side of the Park. We saw what we thought were sections of the track. We also saw several cement piers that may have been foundations to some of the building at the park. The top storyboard focuses on the Rigby Yard side of the Park. This is the side where the grandstands were probably located. The bottom storyboard focuses on the south turn of the track.

Today was an adventure. I left Hallowell around 8:00 a.m. and arrived in South Portland around 9:00. In South Portland, I met up with Kathryn DiPhilippo, Director of the South Portland Historical Society. Our plan was to drive to the location of Rigby Park, one of Maine's Lost Trotting Parks. We drove to Rumery Street to see how we could enter the former grounds of the trotting park and actually stand on the track. Our first attempt was to try to enter the parcel of land at the upper in of the track. Here we ran into a storm drain, wetlands, and difficult walking.

Earlier we had spoken to Mr. Graves who was tightening the gas line on a forklift. Mr. Graves had actually trained trotting horses in New Hampshire. As we were planning another attempt, Mr. Graves informed us that his manager recommended that we drive on the dirt road that would take us by the railroad tracks that run by the South Portland Landfill. We were told to walk down the tracks until we could see what used to be the track at Rigby Park. With our Google Earth aerial photo of Rigby, we were able to walk onto the property sidestepping wet areas and finally onto the track.

We were at the end of the track with the lower turn. The track still maintained it grading -- the track was higher on the outside edge. As we stood on the track, we tried to visualize where the grandstands may have been located. Where was the main gate and the other buildings at Rigby. Was the Rigby Hotel located nearby? There are still many questions to be answered. However, here we were standing on the track where Hod Nelson's champion trotting stallion Nelson recorded his fastest time of 2.09. Here, in 1894, Directum defeated Nelson in three heats.

More information on Rigby Park will be posted in the near future

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ralph Webber Photographs 1913 to 1919

Today, with my granddaughter, Laila Brady, I ventured to the Kennebec Historical Society. I was advised to take a look at Ralph Webber's photograph album (1913 to 1919) with hopes that I would find photos of the Augusta Driving Park -- Augusta's Lost Trotting Park. Unfortunately, the hunt for pictures of the driving park continues. However, Ralph Webber took some great photos. So here courtesy of the Kennebec Historical Society are images of Augusta, Monhegan, Mt. Katahdin, Moxie Falls, and Boothbay Harbor.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunnyside Farm House survived for Many Years

My thanks to Bill Flagg who sent pictures taken many years ago of the residence of Sunnyside Farm and the Nelson Farm Garage. Based on the A.W. Treat painting of the stallion Nelson with the Buildings of Sunnyside in the background, the garage must have been built after the large horse barn was torn down. The garage was owned by Roland Marcoux, Bernie Butler's uncle.

Bill Flagg was born on the second floor of the Sunnyside residence. Bernie Butler, who was born on Sawyer Street, is Bill's cousin.

The first image in this post is cropped from the 1888 painting of Nelson with the buildings of Sunnyside Farm in the background. The shape of the residence building in the photo and the painting match. Upon request, the oil painting by A.W. Treat can be viewed at the Maine State Museum.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Google Analytics: Visitors to Lost Trotting Parks

Statistical Snapshot of Visitors to Maine's Lost Trotting Parks Blog

1. 778 Visits --
Most of these visits between 11/09 and 3/10
Not including the United States, 10 countries have visitors to the Lost Trotting Parks Blog.

2. 4 pages viewed per visit (average)

3. 358 Absolute Unique Visitors

4. 2,670 Page views

Of all the visitors to Lost Trotting Parks, Maine sent 517 visits via 52 cities.

Maine Towns/Cities Visiting Lost Trotting Parks

1. Hallowell
2. Augusta
3. Lewiston
4. Auburn
5. Portland
6. Bangor *
7. Bangor *
8. Greenville
9. Brewer
10. Farmingdale
11. Falmouth
12. Kennebunk
13. Monmouth
14. Presque Isle
15. Lincoln *
16. Lincoln *
17. Norridgewock
18. Jay
19. Benedicta
20. Cranberry Isles
21. Brunswick
22. Norridgewock
23. Greenville
24. Ogunquit
25. Buxton
26. Monmouth
27. Lewiston
28. Cornish
29. Falmouth
30. Belfast
31. Bryant Pond
32. Cumberland Center
33. Bethel
34. Rockland
35. Stetson
36. Readfield
37. Rockland
38. Orono
39. Sebec
40. Waterville
41. Westbrook
42. Anson
43. South Paris
44. Gorham
45. Cranberry Isles
46. Bar Harbor
47. Old Orchard Beach
48. South Portland
49. Raymond
50. Mexico
51. Gardiner
52. Bridgton

* Bangor and Lincoln have duplicate entries.

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