The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

The Lost Trotting Parks Storyboard Archives

Monday, January 31, 2011

George M. Robinson's Trotting Park -- South Belfast Road, Augusta, Maine

Robinson's trotting park may have been used for a short time period as the Augusta Fairgrounds. According to the history of Kennebec County, Robinson built his track in 1872. It was no longer maintained by 1892. Robinson's death was prior to this date.

In Clark Thompson's research of the early history of Maine's trotting industry he remembers reading that Robinson's track was used one year for the Augusta Fair. At the Northeast Horseman's Show Debbie Violette informed me that the property owned by her father, Ed Sliva was once an old fairground. Silva's land runs along South Belfast Avenue on the right after the four corners. Robinson's home in the 1879 map of Augusta, was on the left maybe five houses before the intersection. If anyone has any information on the old fairgrounds on South Belfast Avenue, please contract Stephen Thompson at

Approximate Location of Alan Lambard's Trotting Park -- 500 Feet to Right of Route 17 in Augusta

Today I dropped by the Assessor's Office at Augusta City Hall. In 2010 I had spoken with Linda Morin, now City Assessor, regarding aerial photographs of the City of Augusta. With Lisa's help, I was able to review aerial photographs taken of Augusta in 1954. The area where the trotting park was located is now all residential. However, the 1954 aerials were taken before the development of the neighborhoods off Route 17 and Hospital Street. Although the image is faint, we can still see the halo of Alan Lambard's Trotting Park. According to the History of Kennebec County, Lambard built his driving park around 1873. It was no longer maintained by 1892. Lambard's death was prior to this date.

My thanks to Lisa Morin for her help!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lost Trotting Parks to Display at Maine Agricultural Fair Convention January 28th and 29th

Stephen Thompson, founder of the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center, will be setting up a display at the Agricultural Fair Associations's Convention at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, January 28th and 29th. Thompson will display storyboards from each Maine County on a 32 inch LCD monitor. In addition he will make the Lost Trotting Parks 2011 Catalog available to interested parties. A framed print of the 1888 painting of Nelson 4209 will be on display. The framed print will be auctioned February 19th at the annual banquet of the Maine Association of Standardbred Horse Breeders and Owners. On display will be a photo book with both current and vintage images of Maine's lost trotting parks and the story of C.H. Nelson and his famous stallion.

T-Shirts with vintage images from the era of "When the Horse was King" will be available for sale!

Drop by the Lost Trotting Parks Booth!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Contributions to the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center

After exchanging a few e-mails, Harry Nelson shared the history of his grandfather Charles Wellington Nelson. His grandfather was born in New Brunswick and eventually moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Here Nelson, known as Wellie, operated a gas station and eventually became a beloved horseman and became the Park Foreman at Roger Williams Park. Harry shared family photographs and saved newspaper articles.

I thank Harry for sharing his family history.

An Invitation to Readers: If you have a family story to share through text and photographs, please contact Stephen Thompson at

Charles Wellington Nelson -- A Noted Reinsman -- New Brunswick and Rhode Island

Comments by Harry Nelson, Wellie's grandson:

People that knew him called him Wellie, but his real name was Charles Wellington Nelson. He came from Centerville, New Brunswick, Canada born 1877 if my math is correct on his 1901 wedding certificate. He operated a Socony Vacuum Gas Station in Providence, RI. At some point in time, he became Park Foreman, at Roger Williams Park. He took care of the horses there. He had numerous friends at the Saugy Hot Dogs:, and I believe some of the men at Saugie’s had financial interest in horses.

I don’t know what the draw was to move from Carleton County, New Brunswick to the big city of Providence, RI. My father, Earl I. Nelson, was probably in his early teens at the time. My father had actually 3 distinctively different lives, on the farm in New Brunswick, in the city of Providence, RI where he worked at Walsh-Kaiser Shipyard and Saugie’s. Then the family was travelling back to NB when Wellie took sick in Newport, Maine. This is where I grew up, he worked at H.P.Hoods and trapped beaver and hunted deer. Quite a diverse life.

Maple Grove Farm -- Proprietors: B.F. & F.H. Briggs -- Auburn, Maine -- 1893

Westland -- Grandam Aubine by Young Rolfe (Sire of Nelson 4209) -- Dam Knox Girl

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Possible Location of the Nelson Mile Track that he did not build!

The annotations on this Google Earth aerial view
were matched to the 1879 map of Waterville.
The position of the track could be to the left
of its present location. The extension of North Street
may have been planned prior to the agreements made with
landowners to build the track. The length of a mile track
is about 2160 feet -- the width 970 feet. These are measurements
for the track only --doesn't include land for grandstand,
paddocks, and other out buildings.

Today's Google Earth View of Waterville, Maine

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guest Writers -- Do you have a story to tell?

If you have a story to tell that would fit within the context of the Lost Trotting Parks Blog, I encourage you to write your story and submit it by sending text and any attached image to Your story may be edited. You will be given a credit line for your article. If interested, you can call me at 207-242-7774.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Turf Publishing Company -- Magazine Sales Promotion

Advertisements and Articles Tied to Hod Nelson -- Turf, Farm and Home

Common to All -- The Horse -- Worker in the Field, Transportation, Entertainment, Warrior in the Battlefield

As I look back at the last two years doing lost trotting parks research, I am amazed at how Mainers across all Maine communities held great interest in their horses and horse related events. The Maine Farmer, the Lewiston Sun Journal, the Kennebec Journal, The Morning Sentinel, the Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly, and Turf, Farm and Home printed horse columns. Reports on horse breeders and horses were printed in Hallowell newspapers of the 1890's. This was the age of 'When the Horse was King." Mainers loved their horses and would read the newspaper to learn more about horse breeders, harness racing results, and famous horses across the State and throughout our nation. Back in the day from Kennebunk to Van Buren, Bethel to Calais, Bar Harbor to Hartland trotting track were built in more than 100 Maine communities. In 1907 Turf, Farm and Home advertised harness racing in Bath, Camden, Rockland, Madison, Newport, Waterville, Bangor, and other Maine towns. Except for Bangor, the trotting parks in these communities are gone -- gone to industrial development, school yards, neighborhoods, a movie theater, forests, and hospitals.

As I look at Maine today I can not see a theme that crosses all Maine communities that would be reported statewide with interest and read by people in all Maine communities. Perhaps we need to look back at this age and then explore what it means to be a Mainer today. Explore the possibilities and the commonalities so that we too can find ways to communicate and gain a greater appreciation for who we are and what we share.

READERS TAKE NOTE -- Seeking Issues of Turf, Farm and Home -- The Portland Press

During the last ten days I have been reviewing issues of the Turf, Farm and Home newspaper. These newspaper provide us with the life and times of Maine's horseman between the late 1880s through 1912. In 1892, Turf, Farm and Home absorbed J.W. Thompson's Maine Horse Breeders' Monthly. In 1912 Turf, Farm and Home was absorbed by The Maine Press that was published in Portland, Maine. The Maine Press may have ceased operation in 1910. The Fogler Library at the University of Maine in Orono has copies of The Maine Press from 1912 to 1920. It appears that there are very few issues of Turf, Farm, and Home in public collections.

To do our research we would certainly entertain reviewing any of these newspapers. However, we are interested in the following issues of Turf, Farm and Home -- all issues in December of 1909 and January of 1910. We are also interested in issues of The Maine Press from March and April of 1915.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turf , Farm and Home -- 1907 -- Promoting Lost Trotting Parks

Turf Farm and Home Reports on Nelson Day at Central Maine Fair -- 1907

A 2010 storyboard describes Nelson Day at the Central Maine Fairground. This storyboard includes an article from the July 3rd issue of Turf Farm and Home that describes Hod Nelson agreeing to present his life's work to central Maine fairgoers. Hod Nelson's career had both good and bad moments. This day however demonstrates that in the end Nelson's reputation and lifework was cherished by many of the people in the State of Maine.

The items that create one of the major attractions at the Exhibition Hall were the trophies and photographs representing Nelson's career. Some of these items can be found at the Redington Museum in Waterville. However, much of Nelson memorabilia is lost or in private collections.
If you can lead us to a collector with Nelson memorabilia, e-mail

Turf Farm and Home Reports on Nelson Day at Central Maine Fair -- 1907

A 2010 storyboard describes Nelson Day at the Central Maine Fairground. This storyboard includes an article from the July 3rd issue of Turf Farm and Home that describes Hod Nelson agreeing to present his life's work to central Maine fairgoers. Hod Nelson's career had both good and bad moments. This day however demonstrates that in the end Nelson's reputation and lifework was cherished by the people of the State of Maine.

The International Stock Food Farm --- Savage, Minnesota -- Home to Dan Patch, Creseus, Directum, and Arion

Last week I posted text and photo of what was called the Taj Mahal -- The home to Dan Patch. The Taj Mahal was part of the International Stock Food Farm owned by M.W. Savage. The previous post is a lengthy article published by the Waterville-based newspaper, Turf, Farm and Home. This newspaper contains a wealth of information about harness racing, horse breeding, agricultural fairs, and farming. I will be posting a series of storyboards with articles and photographs from this newspaper.

Images cropped from the December 26, 1906 issue
of Turf, Farm, and Home.
Courtesy of Clark P. Thompson, Bangor, Maine

Turf, Farm, and Home Published in Waterville, Maine -- The Foremost Horse Farm in the Land