The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wyman Park -- Ellsworth, Maine

This weekend Libby and I visited Bar Harbor to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. On our way back I entered Fairgrounds Road, Ellsworth, Maine into our car's GPS. We drove to the end of Fairgrounds Road. At the road's end we could see that the road unpaved continued into the woods. I believe the road is actually the track of Wyman Park. As I ventured down the road I found old foundation posts that could have supported the grandstands or another building on the fairgrounds. Little is known of Wyman Park's history. If you have any information regarding Wyman Park, please contact Stephen Thompson at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A More Scientific Method -- Locating the Grandstands

Today four of us unsuccessfully searched for the foundation posts of the grandstands that were once at Merrill's Park in West Gardiner, Maine. With the help of Google Earth and Google Maps, I developed what I hope will lead us to the grandstand location. Hopefully, we know that tomorrow morning!

In Search of the Grandstands at Merrill's Park (Slideshow)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Statue of Champion Trotting Stallion Nelson

Clark P. Thompson, founder of Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail, commissioned this sculpture of Nelson, the Champion Trotting Stallion from Waterville, Maine. The Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center is developing plans to raise funds to erect a statue that will be located at a site significant to Maine trotting horse history.

Hod Nelson's Waterville

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Belfast Trotting Park Storyboards

On Monday May 24, 7:00 pm at the Belfast Library, 106 High Street, Belfast, Maine, Clark Thompson, founder of Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail and Stephen Thompson, developer of the Lost Trotting Parks Blog will present, "When the Horse was King." Stephen will overview his work discovering Maine's Lost Trotting Parks. Between 1880 and 1930 there were at least 100 Maine communities with trotting parks. Clark will talk about his research of Maine trotting horses from 1819 to 1893. The following storyboards were developed to be displayed at the May 24 presentation. We look forward to our visit to Belfast!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Merrill's Park -- West Gardiner

Last fall I called the town office in West Gardiner to see what they knew about Merrill's Park. The answer being not much, they referred me to Mert Hickey. Mert and I talked a few times. He had a couple of picture of the trotting park. We never managed to get together. This past Sunday I called Mert and we agreed to meet this evening at the "Y" at the beginning of the Pond Road. Oddly just down the Pond Road to the left was the location of West Gardiner's lost trotting park. Mert got permission from Vernon Packard, the owner of the land, for us to explore the property to see if we could find any remnants of the old park. Alas -- except for a few pieces of granite, we could not find a trace of the track. If you look at the Google Earth image in the storyboard below you can definitely see the halo of the track. After our walk, I dropped by to speak with Mr. Packard. Mr. Packard agreed to walk the grounds with me and show me the location of the cement posts that were once part of the grandstand. I hope to add more information about Merrill Park in the near future. When I checked out my e-mail and I had received an e-mail from Margaret Peacock who had kindly scanned the Mert's photos of the trotting park.

Here is the text of Margaret's e-mail:
"I believe you met with Mert today in West Gardiner. I asked Mert if I could scan his old pictures and he graciously agreed. I'm sending what I think you need for your project. Your work is fascinating and is itself a race against time to gather material. Best to you in your endeavor."
Margaret Peacock

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maine's Lost Trotting Parks by County by Town

The following four storyboards with a sampling of images presents the Maine communities that once had a trotting park or have an active trotting park. Key: A = Active Park -- L = Lost Trotting Park -- Candidate identifies a town that may have had a trotting park.

This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list. It is pretty much the universe, yet there may be other communities that had trotting parks. The intention of this work is to identify all Maine communities that had trotting parks and attempt to create a short visual and written history of each park.

NOTE: I am updating the Parks by County by Town Storyboards. Waldo County and five towns were not included.

You help is needed in order to complete this work. If you are from one of these communities or a neighboring community and you have information regarding Maine's lost trotting parks and the history of trotting in Maine, I encourage you to contact me with your information.

The Maine history of the age of "When the Horse was King" has passed us by. Often I am interviewing the elderly grandchildren and relatives of the horseman, the horse breeders, and people who lived during this age. Many of the stories are lost. However, I believe we should do the work now that will capture that which remains.

Stephen Thompson

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lincoln County Fairgrounds -- Damariscotta, Maine

1908 marked the 52nd year of the annual fair and exhibition of the Lincoln Agricultural and Horticultural Society. The fair was held at the Damariscotta Driving Park. The racing program provides evidence that the park was still active in 1941.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Merrill -- Son to Nelson -- Owned by Fred J. Merrill -- Damariscotta, Maine

Documents that accompanied the Nelson painting that sold at auction in Fairfield included newspaper articles on the pacer, Merrill, owned by Fred J. Merrill of Damariscotta, Maine. I spoke with June Merrill Tukey, Fred Merrill's granddaughter. June well remembers the stories of her grandfather and his prized pacer Merrill. The following storyboards introduce you to Merrill.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Horses of Kennebec County

The 1892 History of Kennebec County provides us with a unique glimpse into 'When the Horse Was King" in Kennebec County. The section on horses has been scanned and arranged in three storyboards. In 1819, the Kennebec Agricultural Society "voted to raise a committee to confer with the Maine Agricultural Committee to offer a liberal premium for bringing "a good stock" horse into the county."

This was the age when the trotting horse rose to its position of imminence. As I read this history, I wonder, do the descendants of the men and women of this time remember the stories of their ancestors? Do they retell the stories? Do they possess mementos from the past? -- photographs --paintings -- engraving -- fair programs --race cards, -- stallion cards -- ribbons -- trophies -- catalogs -- newspaper clipping -- journals -- business records -- even a high wheel sulky!

Do we realize and appreciate that "When the Horse Was King," the horse was our means of transportation, our worker in the field, and our entertainment. The horse played an integral part in the lives of human beings. With progress and the advent of the automobile the horse's importance to our economy to our way of life diminished and for most vanished. My sense is that we need to take the time to recover this past and honor the people, the places, and the horses that created the rich fabric of history -- the era of "When the Horse Was King."

Most of the stories related to the history of the horse throughout Kennebec County are lost. If we are to recover what we can of this history -- in Kennebec County and throughout the State of Maine, then our work is now.

Now is the time for that work!

The book, Maine's Trotting Horse Heritage Trail, presents the history of the trotting horse from 1819 through 1893. People, places, events and horses are detailed. Clark Thompson, author of this book, has placed 21 inscribed granite markers from Old Orchard Beach to Dover, With this book you are able to read the history and follow the trail. The last marker honored the anniversary of the death of the stallion Nelson, Maine's most famous trotting champion. The marker is placed at the Sterling Street Playground in Waterville, Maine.