Longacres Relic

Longacres Racetrack is long gone. The property was sold to Boeing and demolished in the early 90s. Clyde Furd sent me a note on why the track was closed in response to my original research that it had falling attendance.  Here is what he told me which makes a lot more sense.

As I recall it was some other financial shenanigans by the younger members of the Alhadeff family that backfired and they had used the track as collateral or else had mortgaged it to the hilt to finance these other ventures. This idea is enhanced by the fact that Emerald Downs opened just three years after Longacres closed and in fact leased Longacres for two years after the Alhadeff’s sold the property to Boeing. Emerald Downs has been operating for 22 years now, something that simply would not have happened if there was waning interest in the sport.

It was originally built on the outskirts of Renton, Washington in the 1930s. It had a great run but now there is very little left of it. Most folks assume it is all gone except some old parking areas and building foundations. You can see the old track in google photos still but on the ground it is harder to tell it even existed.

I work in Renton and started using a back road to get home when I-405 is backed up. This route takes me under the freeway and avoids some long traffic lights to get across Grady at either Lind or Oaksdale. On 16th SW one just drives west along the edge of the Boeing campus. You come to a stop sign and veer to the right.

Freeway over old Longacres entrance unit and building slab
Freeway over old Longacres entrance unit and building slab

The easiest way to go is just to the left but if one jags onto a spur of Monster Road you will be right between two existing pieces of Longacres. They are the old entrance units.

Freeway over Monster Road - old Longacres entrance
Freeway over Monster Road – old Longacres entrance

The freeway was built over the top of these roads and Longacres forgotten entrance units. Perhaps that has protected them from destruction when all else was torn down. Here is a snip of the Google map showing where this is. You can also see what I mean by the aerial view shows the old racetrack still exists.

Longacres entrance units location
Google Map of Longacres site – circle old entrance units

The next set of photos are from two trips I made to document these neglected jewels. On my second trip while I was taking my photos a bicyclist stopped and asked me if those had always been there. He had passed many times and never noticed. We had a good discussion about the old racetrack and the Green River Trail which I documented in this blog last year.

First this photo is how you would enter the racetrack if you came to visit and play. The one on the left is cleaner I think due to being completely under the freeway. The right one is overgrown with blackberries and other growth. It isn’t under the freeway so it gets water for the vegetation.

Longacres entrance still exists - this is how it looked driving into the racetrack parking
Longacres entrance still exists – this is how it looked driving into the racetrack parking

Here is a close up of the unit that is in better condition. Was it a planter? or did it have a gas burning torch? For some reason I think it was a flame but I have no proof of that. This photo is a favorite of mine since it shows the dynamics of the freeway overhead. Optically it has a lot going on.

Longacres entrance unit under I405
Longacres entrance unit under I405

Now lets see what they look like from the north and south views.

Longacres old entrance looking north
Longacres old entrance looking north
Longacres relic looking south
Longacres relic looking south

Under the freeway is a concrete slab. Wonder what this was? A building? a bit of parking? I did a search for photos of this area of the track but could not find any. I am going to see if a couple of contacts I have can help us and will add that if found. What I did find was an old postcard on Flickr. This was taken by Jerry Clark and is posted on Track Walker.  I circled where these units are under I-405.

Longacres postcard - entrance unit location
Longacres Postcard – location of entrance unit circled

On my first photo opt I parked basically in the middle of Monster Road with my flashers on. This area is next to some construction being done to shore up the railroad right-a-way. This is a narrow road with no shoulder or area to walk. Had to stay alert for sure.

Monster Road with RR repair west side
Monster Road with RR repair west side

Have an update to share with everyone.  The Renton Museum posted this blog post on its Facebook site.  I got the following picture from Bill Taylor.  Here is what he said about the picture too.  Thanx a million Bill!!

Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos, has been the track photographer at Longacres, Churchill Downs and many other well known tracks, sent a few pictures that faintly show it in the background and he is searching his archives for more.

Photo of Longacres entrance units and parking lot - from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos
Photo of Longacres entrance units and parking lot – from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos

Look closely inside the red square and you can see the relics under the freeway.  Good stuff for sure!!

 

12 thoughts on “Longacres Relic

  1. I am so happy that you are giving long overdue tribute to this historic place. Too often we dismiss history right under our nose. I grew up going there with my family and friends. My aunt and uncle had box seats there from the beginning. Thanks so much for awakening my memories!

    1. thank you so much for visiting my blog. Hope you found all 5 of my posts on Longacres. Plus if you love nature especially crows you will find lots to check out. Let me know if you remember anything about the two entrance bowls under I405. Still working on what & when they were installed.

  2. I came across your post within the past hour–great stuff! I posted a story earlier today at MyNorthwest-dot-com along with a callout for ideas as to what these structures were for (I could tell that they were originally built as parts of a railroad overpass, but wasn’t sure about where the concrete planters came from–a City of Renton employee told me about the Longacres connection, but I admit I doubted him!). The old railroad siding that must’ve used the overpass is visible in the picture of Mile Day 1960. Anyhow, here’s a link to my piece: http://mynorthwest.com/445127/mystery-on-monster-road/

    1. Feliks – this is so great that we both went on the quest to figure out these mystery planters under I405 near the ruins of Longacres. Did you look at my other post Longacres Racetrack Vintage Photos – here is the link https://batgurrl.net/2016/06/26/longacres-vintage-photos/

      In this article I have a photo of I405 under construction and a photo from the 1980s. Somewhere between those two events they were placed there. I really think the one reader might be right about someone building them from cement left over from a bomb shelter. The mid-60s was all about civil defense and what to do if the big bomb hit.

      I have contacted the Renton Museum and their curator didn’t know either. Nor did one of the employees from Longacres Bill Taylor who sent me the photos.

      Got to love a good mystery. Robin

  3. Hi, Robin.

    Very nice work in documenting the old Longacres track. I do wonder about the “reason” you gave for its demise as being falling attendance. As I recall it was some other financial shenanigans by the younger members of the Alhadeff family that backfired and they had used the track as collateral or else had mortgaged it to the hilt to finance these other ventures.

    This idea is enhanced by the fact that Emerald Downs opened just three years after Longacres closed and in fact leased Longacres for two years after the Alhadeff’s sold the property to Boeing. Emerald Downs has been operating for 22 years now, something that simply would not have happened if there was waning interest in the sport.

    1. Thanx Clyde – see what I get for taking what the internet says!! I need to take your info and correct my post.

      This was my labor of love to document a place gone so we will not forget our history and you can see it has already faded.

      Thanx for visiting and keep sending me info. Batgirl

  4. Upon re-reading my previous comment I see it could be taken in a negative context by my use of the word shenanigans. I don’t mean to imply that the financial moves made by the younger Alhadeffs were in any way unlawful, although I suppose they may have been, just that they were ill-advised given the economic times.

    Or I may just be having a “senior moment” and my memory is totally faulty on this point.

    Although I read all the Black Stallion books as a kid, and re-read them every few years as an adult, I have never been a fan of horse racing. I did go to Longacres once, in the mid 1970s but I remember very little of the experience other than the boring wait times between races. Gambling is one vice that has never had any appeal for me.

    1. Hey – no worry at all. I like you have a few senior moments. Bet your memory of it all is more true than you give credit to. Again, I love the interaction of a blog and appreciate the time you spent there and contacting me. Keep up your discovery of new things and places. Batgirl

  5. Thank you so much for posting this! I have been obsessed with Renton’s history ever since I moved here as a 10 year old in 2001. It saddens me that people of my generation have no curiosity about the early days of our little town. It’s sad to see so much development happening in the Renton area, although I know it is necessary. I can appreciate a post like this that helps preserve some of that history 🙂 Please continue to post any future investigations!

    1. Thanx – if you like local history have you been to the Renton Museum or to Cougar Mtn Park. The park is on top of the old coal mining town of 100 years ago. Fascinating to see how things can change in the blink of an eye.

  6. Hi, Jordan.
    If you like local history then check out Robin’s pages on the Georgetown Steam Plant. Lots of history there as well.

    And Robin, if you ever decide to re-visit the GTSP let me know and I’ll try to arrange a personal tour giving you the straight scoop.

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