Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Foundations

Ruins are often thought of as a tourist site such as the Ruins of Pompeii, the Acropolis or Delphi of Oracle. These are in distant places many of us can never see.  They do have one thing in common and that is they were places mankind gathered.  The area is imprinted with that activity with not only the remains of the structures but of the vibrations that do not dissipate over time.  In some cases they become more powerful and draw us to them.

Longacres has been a ruin for only about 20 years. A horse racetrack of fame built in the 1930s and leveled due to economic hardship in the early 1990s. This place carries many good and sad times. It has heard the cheers of victory, the cries of defeat and the thundering of hooves. The humans and animals cross over many generations, fashion, and even war and peace.  If you would like to read more about the history of the racetrack here is a link to HistoryLink.org  –History of Longacres

When I started documenting the two entrance units that are visibly standing there was a huge interest in the site. These two units are the only real standing things that are visible to those that casually pass through. With that in mind I returned with my camera and a few reference photos to see what I could find. Not much unlike an archaeologist seeking a long-lost place or time to investigate.

What I found surprised me and it will you too.  So, come along on my quest to find the lost Longacres Racetrack. There is so much to see that I have broken it down into three parts:

  • The Foundations
  • The Green Wall
  • The Track

To give you an overview of the site, I took a video from the raised platform on the Light Rail Station.  It faces east and starts with the south end panning to the north. You will see several areas that will be covered starting with the two old poplars next to the Jockey House and the rock pile which is where I found a tile where the Club House is.  It then moves over the original grandstand area. Notice the black fencing which is a Boeing built path from its campus to the Light Rail Station. Then in the distance you will see jersey barriers of the North Grandstands. In the distance to the north is the parking lot and freeway.  Under the freeway are the entrance units where I started my investigation from.  (here is a link to that post – Longacres Relics)

To start the foundations adventure we will go to the parking lot. When you drive down into this area behind the Boeing Campus you will see what is called overflow parking and some construction around the light rail station.  Do not be fooled.  This is the original Longacres Parking Lot.

Longacres Parking Lot looking North - ruins to the right
Longacres Parking Lot looking North – ruins to the right
Old Parking Lot Longacres Racetrack
Old Parking Lot Longacres Racetrack

To give you some bearing on where this is I took a short 360 degree video.  Note the two entrance units under the interstate freeway (I-405) as a way to get your bearings.

Walking south towards the fence that separates this parking lot from the light rail station you will come upon concrete slabs hiding in the underbrush and small trees.  This area is protected from the thoroughfare by jersey barriers but one can easily walk around and on top of the area. To the naked eye it looks like just another piece of the parking lot but you will notice it is raised in several places.

As I walked to my surprise I found the first of several patches of red tile. Yes there was something special in these places that the tile is still attached to the concrete slab. Now you can imagine the footsteps that trod over these tiles and see in your mind how it was a place of excitement instead of this desolate neglected site.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Traveling south I come across an area that is white modern concrete. It is the North Grandstand built in 1982 that replaced temporary bleachers and helped capture the overflowing crowds that thrilled to the horses blowing by them. It goes on for many feet but is very intact in its  cement foundation way. I like to think of Longacres to be like an add-on house that grew as the family blossomed. This north end is the add-on in multiple stages to accommodate everyone.

New white concrete 1980s north grandstand at Longacres ruins
New white concrete 1980s north grandstand at Longacres ruins
Foundation of Longacres with jersey barriers - 2016
Foundation of Longacres with jersey barriers – 2016
Old stairs and fencing at remains of Longacres Racetrack
Old stairs and fencing at remains of Longacres Racetrack

As I walked back to my car that day I took this video walking north from this staircase towards the entrance units. This will give you a good idea of how the overall appearance of the foundations on the north side appear today (Spring 2016).

This is where I mistakenly thought I had been on the original grandstand and turned my attention elsewhere in the ruins.  I was so wrong.  When I got home and did my research comparing photos I realized my mistake and went back to the site. That second visit I found the real Longacres Racetrack of old.

Under the train tracks we go to visit the ruins of Longacres Racetrack
Under the train tracks we go to visit the ruins of Longacres Racetrack

 

Original Longacres building north end looking south
Original Longacres building north end looking south
Original Longacres foundations - 2016
Original Longacres foundations – 2016
Tile and moss at ruins of Longacres Racetrack
Tile and moss at ruins of Longacres Racetrack
Stop Sign to no-where at Longacres ruins
Stop Sign to no-where at Longacres ruins

This grandstand is almost 80 years old and Boeing has built a path from its campus to the Light Rail Station that carves through the north edge of it. Here you are surrounded by more red tile.  Bill Taylor gave me a little bit of info on the red tile after I posted this.  Here is what he said – “A lot of the red tile was at the entrance to the main office area, Morrie’s office and atrium, the family conference room and some of the main line.”  That sure dispels what I heard someone say.. “it is the bathrooms”. I never believed that. This area sure makes one has to realize you are in a place of another time. Some may not even know the history nor care but to ponder what was lost and gone is important. Yes, how could we so quickly discard our history for being modern or make more money?

Boeing Path cutting thru original grandstand
Boeing Path cutting thru original grandstand
Left side of path passing through Original Grandstand
Left side of path passing through Original Grandstand
Right (south) side of path passing through Original Grandstand
Right (south) side of path passing through Original Grandstand
North side Boeing path - old red tile - Longacres Ruins
North side Boeing path – old red tile – Longacres Ruins
South side Boeing path - old red tile - Longacres Ruins
South side Boeing path – old red tile – Longacres Ruins

I wandered around in the bushes trying to get the bearings of what was and followed along the edge of the area behind a fence but in an old parking lot. There was a pile of rocks on an area and more red tiles. My gut tells me I am now in the old Clubhouse. One of the tiles had been pulled up and so I picked it up. To my delight it was made in Italy.

Tile from Sassuolo Italy - Longacres Ruins
Tile from Sassuolo Italy – Longacres Ruins
Floor of Club House where found tile - ruins of Longacres
Floor of Club House where I found tile – ruins of Longacres

This tile is made in an area of Italy that is famous for tiles and I am going to send a picture to one of the manufacturer to see if they can confirm the date and maker of this tile.

As I worked my way around I came to two old lombardy poplars and some more cement items left hanging out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I neared the track I encountered more of the green railing and decided I must be down by the Jockey House. That was when I met Tina and her dog. They were walking along like they have for years. She sort of adopted me and my quest and showed me more things that I had missed. We walked up the racetrack back to the Boeing path and then came back to where I found the tile.

She next showed me more tile around where the Jockey House was. Different than the red tiles and I think they are bathroom and shower floors.  At least that is my assumption.

Little tiles - is this a shower area in Jockey Building?
Little tiles – is this a shower area in Jockey Building?
Cream color tiles at south end of Longacres Racetrack ruins
Cream color tiles at south end of Longacres Racetrack ruins
Flooring in area of Jockey house - Longacres Racetrack
Flooring in area of Jockey house – Longacres Racetrack

At the end I got up on the Light Rail Station and took a series of photos from south to north. This slide show will give you a good idea of what this older end looks like.  For reference first look at an aerial view of the buildings.

Arial View of Longacres Racetrack - left to right - Gazebo, North Grandstand, Original Grandstand, Club house & Jockey House
Arial View of Longacres Racetrack – left to right – Gazebo, North Grandstand, Original Grandstand, Club House & Jockey House

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now that I have set the foundations out for you I am going to move to the green wall. This is a huge piece of the ruins that are still standing. They are buried in the woods now and one has to get into the brambles to find.  You can find The Green Wall at this link  Longacres Ruins Green Wall

North Longacres Grandstand - first glimpse of green wall
North Longacres Grandstand – first glimpse of green wall

 

21 thoughts on “Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Foundations

  1. A lot of the red tile was at the entrance to the main office area, Morrie’s office and atrium, the family conference room and some of the main line. Great job!

    1. Thank You so much for the kind words. I will add this little tid bit in the post. Hope this brings interest to the site and Boeing maintains it more than less. r

  2. I had been to the track and saw the wall while taking a break from a training class for Boeing. That was about 10 years ago. Seeing the wall, the weeds growing up through the track, the infield area (and your story) leaves an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. My entire family worked there. My grandfather from the start. Like ghosts, I recall the sites, sounds, and smells. Horses steaming from the sweat of an early morning workout, the geraniums planted around the infield, the hanging baskets, large barn owls in the rafters, riding on the tractors…
    My grandfather, Thomas (Tommy) Teasdale, helped plant the poplars with Joe, built barns, and later managed the Jocks room, while my grandmother, Meda, ran the Jocks room café. Grandpa later would sell mutual tickets. He was good friends with, and, rode along side of Red Pollard (Sea Biscuit) in Canada, New Mexico…
    On the off-days, I’d play in the dirt on the track with some of grandmas kitchen utensils. Got to watch the races from the upper deck of the jockeys room. My Father Merrill was leading rider in 1956 and set the record for most wins @ 6, until broken by Larry Pierce (as I recall).
    A family friend and riding partner of my father’s “Jimmy Craswell”, whom I worked with at one time, told me this hilarious story…
    Jimmy mentioned that my mom (Gloria Teasdale at the time) owned
    a race horse called “Gloria T” and that Jimmy was the mount. He told me: “Gloria T only won one race!” I told him that I knew that, then he starts giggling and said: “slowest time ever recorded at Longacres!”
    If you read between the lines, and, not knowing how many horses were in the field that race… It was all the jocks could do to hold there horses back to allow that plug to cross the finish line! My mom said that all the remaining jockey’s up on the jocks room sundeck yelled “Boat Race!” I don’t remember what the exact odds were, somewhere around 15 -18 to 1. I suppose a few bucks were made that day.
    Anyway, it was a great place to grow up, and I miss it all so much!
    Thank you for the great article!

    Regards
    Lamont Faulkner

    1. You touched my heart today. This is why I documented what has happened to it. Longacres is maybe gone but not forgotten. My blog post hopefully will live on and help carry all these memories

      question for you? Do you know if the entrance units under the freeway had flowers or were gas flames? No one seems to know that? Go to my Relics of Longacres post to see them. Thanx again

      1. I do not recall gas flames. As a young boy, that would’ve been a detail I would remember.

      2. Hi – funny think both you and Lamont Faulkner who’s family was very involved in the track told me he would have remembered flames as a kid. He thinks they were planters too.

        Mystery solved 🙂

      3. I have several aerial photos of Longacres that were taken in the 60’s….would you like me to scan them for you and if so, an email address?

  3. Thank you so much for this. I met my husband, jockey Hugh Wales, at Longacres in 1986. He was eighth all time leading rider there and well known by many. We were both jockeys at the time and rode together for a few years. I will never forget this magical place. This place and my memories will be etched forever in my mind, swift horses beneath me, the people, the barns, the poplar trees….my list could go on forever. Those responsible for its demise should be so ashamed of themselves for what they have done and although another racetrack was later built and in its modern way is nice, it will never replace Longacres Racetrack with its rich history. It will never put a spell on those who enter like Longacres did for so many of us. Thank you again.

    1. Thank You – it made all the honorable effort worth while when I get a response like this. If you have anything to add to the posts do not hesitate to send it to me. I am thinking of doing a 2017 update. Again thanx

      1. Thank you so much for your efforts. I feel like part of my life died with that place. All of my racetrack family was dispersed across the U.S. or got out of the business altogether. I don’t think that the people who did this will ever fully realize (or don’t want to) what they did. It was all greed driven, all about the money. It is so sad to see all the jobs that were lost, all the good horsemen and women gone, the breeding industry in shambles. It is so sad for me to see all of the farms in Enumclaw and surrounding areas gone, bulldozed down for real estate endeavors, housing complexes, commercial buildings, etc….Just like Longacres…and for nothing. You know what every person says to me when they talk about it? “It’s so sad. They tore the place down for nothing and aren’t even using that property. It’s true. Something else could have been done but the deal was made on the sly before anything could be done.

        There was such a romance about horse racing in Washington that has never returned and that was because it was Longacres that created it, that fed the people, that flourished with the great horses. Race trackers are like gypsies, traveling from race meet to race meet, always following the horses. I rode the last horse on the track the morning that Longacres ended. It was always about them…the horses…for they made us all better people. And I felt the wind in my face aboard a fast horse leave me forever…

        I still exercise horses in Arizona in the winter time. It isn’t the same. No matter what track I go to, it will never be the same. I went to the old site and saw a lot of the same things that you photographed. I cried a thousand tears, thinking of meeting my love there, riders in the jockeys room we were, sitting above on the terrace of the jocks room in the sun in the shade of those tall poplars, watching the horses thunder by…

      2. Kimberly – if you have any photos or stories to share do send them to me. I can always add to this tribute and preservation of the past.

        Thanx again Robin

      3. One more thing – be sure to go to the third post I did called Ruins of Longacres – The Track. This has a small movie I made plus other video and good pictures of the real track. I also did one on the actual track composition. They had dug a chunk out and I was able to look at the layers put down to form it.

  4. This is amazing. I used to go every week back in high school for my history reports to do as much research as I could. I wish my reports were as great as this. I took pieces of tile & green wall back home as a memory but never found an Italy piece. And I always wondered what the black rubber pieces on the walls were when I went. It’s amazing to know where I once stood & seeing pictures of what was once the building. Thank you for this. I was 4 when it was torn down so I have no solid memories. All I have is google for pictures & the ruins to try & piece together the place that my parents claim made me very happy. Thank you for doing this & sharing it

    1. HI – It is a pleasure to help preserve this wonderful place for everyone. As time goes by it will slip further & further in the earth.
      We can’t bring it back but this research project was one of my all time favorite in my blogging history. That started documenting my local crows but grew into just rambling around the area learning all kinds of things.
      As I tell all Longacres alumni, if you have anything to share please send me an email. More photos and stories can only add to this tribute.

    2. One more thing – be sure to go to the third post I did called Ruins of Longacres – The Track. This has a small movie I made plus other video and good pictures of the real track. I also did one on the actual track composition. They had dug a chunk out and I was able to look at the layers put down to form it.

  5. Thank you for the photo history, I walked those areas many times during the course of 3 decades and was there on September 21, 1992 for the Au Revoir Purse. It is a shame to see want has happened to an icon of Puget Sound history!!!

    1. I am so glad you found my site. As I tell all those who lived and breathed Longacres, I would be happy to include any photos or tidbits you want to share. At some piont this spring I will do a re-visit to see if there have been large changes.

      Thanx again!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s