The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Caribou's Lost Trotting Park

This post consists of two images that were e-mailed to me by Greg Wilkinson. For many years, Greg has provided sound at many of Maine's agricultural Fair. Greg also collects memorabilia from Maine's agricultural fairs and harness racing events. We are fortunate that Greg shares the images from his collection to enhance our understanding of the history of Maine's agricultural fairs and trotting parks.

Friday, June 25, 2010

July 3rd and 4th, 1914 Racing Program at the Caribou Trotting Park

The following storyboards were created from materials sent to me by Mona Martin, Assistant Librarian, who works at the Caribou Public Library. This post and the one that follows provides images of the trotting park. Text that describes the trotting park was retyped into storyboards and in the following post. Unique to this post is the list of horses and horse owners participating in the races at the Caribou Trotting Park July of 1914. Newspaper articles from the Aroostook Republican were cropped from photocopies, cleaned up a bit, and reset within MS Publisher. Storyboards of Aroostook's Lost Trotting Parks will be on display at the Northern Maine Fair this August.

Caribou Trotting Park 1914 to 1926

The following text was provided by the Caribou Public Library. The text may be excerpts typed from the Aroostook Republican.

-- July 17, 1913 --

Trotting Park assured -- The indications are now that Caribou will have, in the near future a trotting park. For several years the matter has been discussed and various plans made, locations suggested, etc., and today the prospects are much brighter than for some time. S.E. Griffin, who served the town for two years as second selectman, and who has taken an active interest in the new project, has given the matter much much actual work in getting the matter before the public in some tangible form. He has been calling on the businessmen for subscriptions and has met with signal success, over one-half the amount required having been pledged, as our citizens are taking hold of the matter with a great deal of enthusiasm.

-- July 31, 1913 --
A large number of the subscribers of the Caribou Trotting Park and Fair Association met in P. of H. dining hall Wednesday evening. It was voted to incorporate under the laws of the State of Maine and the following name was adopted -- The Caribou Trotting Park and Fair Association. The new association is capitalized at $50,000. It was voted that all signers of the original paper for purpose of organizing the association be considered as original holders.

O.L. Keyes, Chairman -- S.E. Griffin, President -- J.D. Chappelle, Assistant Secretary -- N.A. Currier, Vice President -- L.E. Tuttle, Vice President -- E.J. Briggs, Vice President -- E.F. Shaw, Vice President -- Milo Whittier, Treasurer -- J.B. Kelley, Director -- Charles H. Baird, Director -- Murray Briggs, Director -- G.W. Thompson, Director -- A.J. McDougal, Director -- H.O. Stevens, Director -- W.L. Collins, Director -- John McElwain, Director -- H.S. Mitton, Director -- L.J. Pendell, Director

Grover M. Hardison, Civil Engineer, was present, and submitted a plan for the new track, which he had recently surveyed, sowing the grade to be very light with good prospects of a fine race track
-- August 14, 1913 --
"The new trotting park is at present a lively place. There are a dozen teams and a large force of men at work grading the track and putting the grounds in proper condition. The work is under the supervision of Mr. Hackett, who had charge of grading the Houlton track and putting the grounds in proper condition, and who thoroughly understands just what is required."

"This 28 acre property was located north of Teague Park and close to the high school. During my years in high school, the area was used for track and field events and other sports. Much credit should be given the farsighted town fathers and to the planning committee that recognized the need for additional land for town use. The property was purchased in 1928 from the Aroostook Trust Company for $20,000 on a 12 year rental contract with interest making the total cost of the purchase $35,000. This is where the first armory and town garage were built in the 1930s.

During the days when the property was still owned by the Trotting Park Association, the annual Caribou Fairs were held and considered quite the events. The fairs attracted people from a wide area. They had all types of exhibits in the exhibition hall under the grandstand, horse races, pony races, vaudeville acts, balloon ascensions, fireworks and plenty of food to eat at the food booths of churches and other organizations."
-- Life and times of Grover Merrill Hardison (1885 to 1950) by Lewis Merrill Hardison, 1986

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Five from Maine Named to the New England Harness Writers Hall of Fame


MARLBOROUGH, MA. --Five Maine contributors to harness racing and one from Massachusetts are among those named to the New England Harness Writers Hall of Fame.
Leading the way is William 'Zeke' Parker Jr., who recently compiled his 10,000th career win, Fred Nichols, director of racing at Bangor Raceway, Don Marean, former Maine Representative and chairman of the USTA'S District Nine directors, Robert Lieberman of Norwood, Mass., assistant paddock judge at Plainridge, and Nicholas W. S. Leighton born in Auburn, Maine,and Ed Bither, whose birthplace was Charleston, Maine both postumously named.Leighton who died in 1898, was named to the harness hall of fame at Goshen, N.Y. in 2008.
The inductees and other award recipients to be announed will be cited at the writers' 32nd hall of fame awards program October 16, 2010 at the Hollywood Slots and Casino at Bangor Raceway.
William Ellis, whose race calls are no stranger to Bangor racing fans, is chairing the event and can be reached at ( Tickets at $25 pp can be purchased from Lieberman ( An ad journal is also being produced by Ellis.
"This awards program honors five Maine contributers to harness racing," chapter president John Ginnetti Jr. remarked."Hall of fame inductees have been selected on a near yearly basis by the chapter since 1962."
Long time owner-driver-trainer Archie McNeil of Westborough, Mass., has been named the 11th recipient of the chapter's 'Ironman Award.' McNeil who campaigns at Plainridge Racecourse has 1,080 career wins and has been in the spot for four decades.Maine's Orrin Phipps "the ageless wonder of harness racing" was the first recipient of the award.

any questions contact Ginnetti at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Northeast Harness News Remembers the Kite Track 1947

Trotting Tracks -- Spirit of the Times --December 24, 1887 - Intro Storyboard

When I started The Lost Trotting Parks Blog, I thought that it would be important to create context for the images and histories of Maine's lost and active trotting parks. As a result you have read many posts that present information about the times. This has included articles from an agricultural yearbook, The Maine Farmer, The Waterville Sentinel, and The Farmers' Manual. This post presents an article that was first published in 1887 in the Spirit of the Times. W.H. Gocher included this article in his book, FASIG's TALES of the TURF with MEMOIR. This book was published in 1903. The storyboards present the entire article. To the right of the pages, I have added images of Maine's Lost Trotting Parks and Maine Trotting History.

Trotting Tracks -- Spirit of the Times --December 24, 1887 - Storyboards 2 - 5

Trotting Tracks -- Spirit of the Times --December 24, 1887 - Storyboards 6 - 9

Trotting Tracks -- Spirit of the Times --December 24, 1887 - Storyboards 10 - 13

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Van Buren Trotting Park

This post consists of a USGS aerial view of the former location of the Van Buren Trotting Park and a post card image of the track and grandstands. If any readers have further information regarding trotting in Van Buren, Maine, please e-mail Stephen Thompson --

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Springfield Fair -- Springfield, Maine

The Springfield Fair is one of Maine's current fairs. Trotting no longer occurs on the fairgrounds. The fair is an excellent example of a Maine country fair.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Returning to Merrill -- Merrill was a pacer, not a trotter!

At least two months ago I contacted the Nobleboro Historical Society attempting to locate descendants of Fred S. Merrill, a Damariscotta merchant, who owned the pacer Merrill. I guess the significance is that the champion trotting stallion Nelson was his sire. Furthermore, Merrill was a great pacer in his own right. When the painting of Nelson was auctioned in Fairfield by the Poulin Auction House, a number of documents accompanied the painting. Several of the documents were newspaper articles about the horse Merrill. The newspaper articles presented Merrill as a horse that had huge potential, delivered that promise a few times, and at the age of eleven retired to a pasture with gnarled apple trees on a farm in Damariscotta Mills, Maine. Given my curiosity, I thought it might be a fruitful adventure to investigate the painting of Merrill and determine the location chosen by the artist. The artist was W. A. Treat, presumably a Maine-based painter. Fred Merrill commissioned the painting of Merrill around 1901. Treat also painted Nelson in 1888.

Currently, John Hilton and Mary Sheldon who as associated with the Nobleboro Historical Society are researching land owned by the Merrill family in Damariscotta Mills. The following images and storyboards are helping us determine the location.

The medium chosen by Treat to paint Merrill was pastels. For many years the painting was displayed by members of the Merrill family. Today the whereabouts of the painting is unknown. If anyone has knowledge of this painting, please e-mail

I greatly appreciate the work being done by Carol Newbert at the Nobleboro Town Office, Mary Sheldon of the Nobleboro Historical Society, George Weston, a resident of Damariscotta Mills, and John Sheldon. June Tukey, the granddaughter of Fred S. Merrill, is apprised weekly on our progress!

Maps courtesy of the Nobleboro Historical Society