Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Evolution of a Crow Blog

This last couple of months I have been terrible busy at work and with other life things. My Crows of Arroyos has become harder and harder to find content that I am excited about.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand I am in a writing slump not a permanent give up on my blog about birds, nature, history and of course crows. We all have from time to time a moment of introspection on what we are about.

A good way to go about the future is to see what the past contained. Take away from that what really thrills one and what was a drag. So..here goes on a look back on 7 years of my blogging adventure.

It all started on November 21, 2010 with a new blog built on WordPress (which I still use and love). It was called Arroyos Crow World and it began with this:

Please join me in glimpsing the world of Crows.

For the past several years I have followed the local residents of my neighborhood.  We humans live in our houses and by looking up we can see a whole another world.   The Crows have territories, families and parties just like we do.

Wow – going back to read that I realize that I still follow that course. I have not really been able to completely understand the why they do things (I have tried) but it is  more about where they are and what I observed by looking up.

The next day on November 22nd, I uploaded my first picture and wrote the second blog called “Crow Snow Day”. Check it out! The first picture is a crow pair on my backyard fence. Something they still do today.

What is this white stuff all about?

Look at how far digital photography has come and how grainy my old camera was. Just one of many things that change over a few short years.

To my surprise of the 655 posts only 287 were about crows. Here are some more statistics for those that love math.

  • Total Posts in 7 years – not counting this one – 655
  • 36,573 views
  • 535 is the most views in one day – October 17, 2011 – Crow Stalker and Amanda Knox Paparazzi

And what retrospect would not be really worth its salt if we didn’t have a Top 5 countdown!

Number 5 – Crow Stalker and Amanda Knox Paparazzi

Here I was almost a year into my blogging fun and one Sunday on my walk to “stalk” crows ran across a pair of paparazzi outside Amanda’s mother’s house. She had just got home from being released in Italy and was all the rage in our neighborhood. That included lots of extra traffic and of course news helicopters.

This posting has had 931 visits over the last 6 years. As I noted above more than half happened on the day after I posted it. I got published on some Amanda Knox chat group and anything Amanda was grabbed upon. That included my encounter.

This weeks Amanda Knox Paparazzi

Number 4 – Crow Pellet

974 visits to this post show that lots of folks are interested in this icky subject. Could be they are just thinking guns? I like to think it is such an odd subject with little out there on it that my post got folks the information they wanted.

Check out what the crow threw up in front of me on a piling looks like. Placed perfect for a great photo!

Crow Pellet – interesting look at what this crow was eating

Number 3 – Crows – Ravens and Halloween

This October 2011 post got 1,046 views over time. Every year when Halloween rolls around folks find this posting and educate themselves on crow lore.  Here is my lead in paragraph that sets the tone of smart crows and our aversion to untidy sights.

Corvids (Crows & Ravens) are some of the most popular symbols of Halloween. Months ago I wrote an article about why people think Crows are Evil. In that article I talked about how we as humans might fear a bird that is so smart. Or is it that in our clean and tidy world we don’t take well to them feeding on battlefield dead.

Number 2 – Ruins of Longacres – The Foundations

Close to where I work in Renton, Washington is the site of where a horse racetrack of great aclaim and beauty used to stand. In the 1990s it was sold to the Boeing Company and then redeveloped into office space. The racetrack was torn down to the dismay of many. Almost 20 years later, I stumbled across what was left and started a series of articles to record the “Ruins”.  This blog has netted 1,088 views.  2,068 total views on the whole series. That made all the stomping around in the brush, hundreds of photos and hours of research worth every moment.

This series included 14 blog posts, starting with the a mysterious entrance unit that still stands under I-405 (Longacres Relic), then the three main posts “Ruins of Longacres” Foundation, Green Wall and The Track.  A former employee sent me aerial photos and I did a few posts of those. I produced a small video of the track which you can view below.

Number 1 – Its Molting Time – Crows, Herons & Madrona Trees

This is my all time most visited blog post at 2,921. When I wrote it in 2011 I never thought it would be the one that just kept on giving. It outlasted the Amanda craze, beat out the Halloween post and many posts on my everlasting love of Baby Crows (6 Baby Crows Crying is #10 at 380).

Mom – where are my new winter coat?

When I go look at the ways people find this blog, I find it is not the crows! It is the madrona trees that people admire and want to know more about. This photo of one molting (see below) is is in the top 5 photos you get when you google “Madrona Trees Molting”.  Batgurrl.net has 3 of those top 5.

Madrona Trees also molt this time of year. The bark is just like paper laying on the trail.

I have to mention I have some favorites of my own.  Let us call them Honerable Mentions.

  • My Duwamish Adventure – This was many months of wandering along the trail or roads on the West side of the Duwamish ending at the river’s mouth. The end was a bit disappointing since it was not accessible to me but I did a video of it and what we had done to our river.
  • Georgetown Steam Plant – Electrical power was generated with steam more than a 100 years ago in Seattle. This plant is now a relic of a time gone by. I was enchanted by the many photo moments I got there plus some odd energy that I think are ghosts.

1906 Seattle Electric Company Steam Plant

  • Green River Trail – Like the Duwamish series I walked this trail along the Green River from South Seattle to its end in Kent. Lots to see and write about ranging from crows, old houses, the river, eagles, history and serendipity.

Eagle cools off next to Green River

  • Renton Crow Roost – every fall and winter hundreds of crows flock to the valley close to my office. I am never disappointed in how entertaining they are each year.

2018 is here and what will it bring? Is Serendipity going to carry me forward? Will a pair of crows nest in a tree I can watch from start to finish? Will a historical ruin catch my eye and the hearts of others again?

That is blogging!  Living in the moment and sharing it for others to enjoy too.

Posted in History and other topics

Longacres – The track dirt

Longacres Racetrack has been gone over 20 years now. Construction around it has picked up with new buildings on the south end. This gave me an opportunity to see a cross-section of the track dirt.

There is a need for drainage around these new buildings so they have bisected the track. I came across a fence baring the way that was open track only a few months ago. They have dug down and lined the area. Looks like they used the track dirt for that.

Standing on southern end of Longacres looking north over construction
Standing on southern end of Longacres looking north over construction

Here are the views to the west showing how the track looks as it goes back towards where the grandstands and club house stood.

Facing west on southern end of Longacres racetrack
Facing west on southern end of Longacres racetrack

They have decided to protect some of the lombardy poplars where they cut into the track. Notice the signs that state no trespassing and protected trees.

Racetrack poplars protected during construction
Racetrack poplars protected during construction

When I saw all this dirt revealed I had to get on the other side of the fence and get some documentation of how the track was built.

Longacres track bisected by water retention construction
Longacres track bisected by water retention construction
Longacres track cut into reveals composition of sand and clay
Cut into Longacres track reveals composition of sand and clay

Here are two photos showing you an area I scraped off. One is with my water bottle to give us a gauge of depth – it is around 10 inches tall.

Longacres - sandy loam on top with clay below
Longacres – sandy loam on top with clay below
Longacres track dirt cross-section
Longacres track dirt cross-section

It was built in the 1930s from a clay base with Green River sandy loam on top. Perfect racing surface for horses.

That clay base is about 8 to 10 inches.  You can see where I scraped into the natural soil at the bottom. Then the top is sand of about 6 inches. Again you can see where I have scraped the area that denotes where the two layers meet. No wonder only grass and blackberries grow on the old track surface. Not a lot of fertile soil for vegetation to thrive on.

I leave you with a video that gives a 360 degree view of this area. From the track on either side to the infield full of blackberries and Boeing buildings in the distance. When I made this video I thought it was sand on top and loam on the bottom. That is wrong. It is clay on the bottom and sandy loam on the top.  That is what I get for going off my memory.

Posted in History and other topics

Longacres Racetrack – Vintage Aerials

Longacres Racetrack may be gone now but she lives on in people’s hearts. So many have reached out to me from the documentation I have recently done on The Ruins of Longacres. One of the most gracious has been Bill Taylor.

Bill right away sent me a photo of the Entrance Units under I-405 when I posted my first article called Relics of Longacres. Link to article In the last month he sent me this series of aerial photos.  Most of them are from the early 60s when the freeway was under construction and Southcenter Mall was just a dream.

Let us jump right into things!

This first picture that was the opener is of the racetrack in 1959 when the Green River flooded.

These next two pictures are from the 1960s. The arial is the Mile Day (Longacres Mile Race) showing a packed parking lot and grandstands. The second is the running of the Rainiers which should put a smile on your face.

Mile Day 1960's - Longacres
Mile Day 1960’s – Longacres
Rainier Race in 1960s - Longacres
Rainier Race in 1960s – Longacres

Bill sent me this wonderful piece of Longacres art that only one print was every made of. Notice the lombardy poplar trees that are a signature of the track.  Mt Rainier is peeking in behind the trees.

Longacres Art from Bill Taylor
Longacres Art from Bill Taylor

Next are a series of photos of I-405 being constructed. This has to be before 1965. That was when the first piece of it was opened between Tukwila and Renton.

I have done some more research around the entrance units that are now under the I-405 with these photos. They are not visible on any of them best I can tell zooming them in and out. There is an additional railroad spur about where they are. This old spur has been gone so long that when I went back to the site I cannot find any signs that it ever existed. Look closely yourself and see what I means.

LGA 1
I-405 under construction in mid 60s – Longacres is on left
Longacres next to I-405 under construction
Longacres next to I-405 under construction
LGA 3
I-405 bridge being built over railroad next to Longacres racetrack in early 1960s

Continuing on the entrance units concept here is another picture Bill sent me earlier. It must be in the 80s since the additional grandstands are built.  Note the red box highlights where you can see the two entrance units under the freeway. Somewhere between the freeway construction and then they were moved there.

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

In my research I found a letter from the City of Renton to the Washington Dept. of Transportation.  One of the items was asking them to save the units.  The WADOT stated they did not qualify since they were put there since the freeway was built. Not what I thought at first but it seems to fit the pictures above.

Renton Letter to DOT header - 2008

Renton Letter to DOT header - 2008 - Item #7 relics

Renton Letter to DOT header - 2008 - Item #7 DOT rspns

Renton Letter to DOT header - 2008 - Item #7 relics response

The WA DOT has it wrong though about them being moved there when the racetrack was destroyed or sold to Boeing.

Does anyone reading this have knowledge of these two units? Where did they come from and when did they get installed under the freeway? All good things to know if and when the State decides to move or destroy them.

Back to Bill’s historic pictures. Here are three more showing what the area looked like about 50 years ago. I have added a google map view for your comparison at the end.

Longacres in the 1960s next to I-405
Longacres in the 1960s next to I-405
Longacres 1960s showing west side and West Valley Hwy
Longacres 1960s showing west side and West Valley Hwy

LGA 6

Longacres Racetrack and Southcenter 2016
Longacres Racetrack and Southcenter 2016

I have included Southcenter in this Google Map snip so you can compare that to the next photo too.

LGA 7
Longacres Racetrack with future site of Southcenter at top

One feature of Longacres that Tina (remember how she helped me find ruins one day?) told me about was the house behind the scoreboard. It had a pool even. Bill rounded out the photos he sent me with one of the house.

Longacres Racetrack house behind the tote board..3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a swimming pool
Longacres Racetrack house behind the tote board..3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a swimming pool

I have to thank Bill again for his generosity in sharing his photos and knowledge.

If you want to know more about Longacres today here is a link to the first article.

Ruins of Longacres – the Foundations

 

Posted in History and other topics

Longacres Racetrack- photos of 1993 vs 2016

Along my journey to find the ruins of Longacres Racetrack, I collected what most of us know as now and then photos. For history novices this is where a photo from the past is paired with a more current one.

The majority of my then photos come from the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey that are part of the Library of Congress digital records. The photos were taken in May of 1993 as a survey of the buildings prior to being razed by Boeing.

The feature photo was sent to me by Bill Taylor along with other photos primarily from the early 1960s. Look for those in an upcoming post. I wanted to thank Bill for all the information he has sent me especially around my investigation into the old entrance units under I-405.

The first set of photos show the entrance to the racetrack under the railroad that runs on the West Side of the site. Today this road is called Longacres Way.

Longacres entrance under the railroad
1993 Longacres entrance under the railroad
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 – 2016
Longacres Ruins from Train platform #5 - Northern view towards freeway
Longacres Ruins from Train platform – Northern view towards freeway

The area around the two railroad trestles has been developed into a full-scale train station for the north south Sounder train service. Boeing built a trail for their employees to access this transportation hub by cutting through the original grandstands.

Our next series is around a view from the parking lot at the back of the north grandstand built in the 1980s. The catering office and grandstands are seen in our 1993 photo.

North Grandstand from parking lot in 1993
North Grandstand from parking lot in 1993

Notice the loading dock on the left of the building?  Here is a photo of that area today in 2016 which I am sure is this same slab of concrete.

Ruins of Longacres foundation - perhaps between North grandstand & gazebo addition
Ruins of Longacres foundation  – between North Grandstand and Second Grandstand addition

On the 1993 photo is a doorway about the middle of the catering offices. It had a short staircase that you can see in this 2016 photo.

DSCN9028
Stairway to Longacres Racetrack offices west side of North Grandstand 2016

While I was rambling around the ruins of Longacres I found a place on the green wall that had padding on both sides of an opening. This wall separated the crowd from the racing horses. The padding didn’t seem to be put there during the destruction of the buildings or so I assumed. When I found these two photos in the Historical Building Survey I knew for sure they were where the horses were paraded for all to see.

1993 photo Paddock Club with padded entrance on left
1993 photo Paddock Club with padded entrance on left

To give you a little more perspective on this building here is a shot of it from the parking lot side. The railroad track and train station is behind the photographer.

1993 Paddock Club from parking lot side
1993 Paddock Club from parking lot side

This photo shows the padded fencing from across the track in 1993. Good view of the club houses and Jockey building (on the left).

Padded entrance for horses 1993 Paddock Club
Padded entrance for horses 1993 Paddock Club

Now we are in 2016 and the buildings are all gone. Blackberries and small trees have taken over the area. However, one cannot miss the landmark of this padded area on the Green Wall.

Wall south end Racetrack - bird platform in distance
Wall south end Racetrack – bird platform in distance
Padded wall on Longacres Ruins - Paddock Club area
Padded wall on Longacres Ruins – Paddock Club area
Green wall with protection near Jockey House
Green wall with protection near Jockey House

Red tile is all around the ruins. A passerby told me that they thought it was the bathrooms. My memory told me it was too much to just be that. Bill confirmed along with these photos that the tile was in the main areas of the grandstands primarily by the betting windows.

First we have the original grandstand betting windows from 1993. All the hopes and dreams that stood on this floor can be felt. By the time these photos were taken the racing was over and soon all would be gone but the tile.

Original Longacres Grandstand betting windows - red tile view
Original Longacres Grandstand betting windows – red tile view
2016 red tile of Original Longacres Grandstand betting windows
2016 red tile of Original Longacres Grandstand betting windows

I found one of the tiles that was loose and here are closeups of the front and back of it.

Bottom of red tile found at Longacres Racetrack
Bottom of red tile found at Longacres Racetrack
Right side of Tile from Longacres Racetrack
Right side of Tile from Longacres Racetrack

To the North of this area one will find where the North Grandstands were. This was where I first encountered the red tiles. Here is a historical view of the betting windows and tile from 1993

North Grandstands 1993 view of betting windows and red tile
North Grandstands 1993 view of betting windows and red tile
Red tile and foundation - Longacres ruins 2016
Red tile and foundation – Longacres ruins 2016

The racetrack was ringed by Lombardy Poplars. As one watched the horse race facing to the southeast one could see Mt Rainier and these tall trees.  This postcard that I had in the entrance unit post called Longacres Relic shows how these trees stood tall.  Pay close attention to the southern track curve and the row of trees there.

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

This 1993 photos shows those southern curve trees that separate the track from the parking lot beyond.

Historic Photo Longacres Poplars So Parking
1993 Historic Photo Longacres Poplars So Parking
2016 popular snags at south curve of Longacres Ruins
2016 popular snags at south curve of Longacres Ruins

It would only be proper to end with the Finish Line of the Longacres Racetrack of old. This first photo taken in 1993 shows it clearly with the two white posts in front of the announcing booth that is tucked in the rafters of the original grandstand.

Longacres Racetrack Finish line in 1993 from across the track
Longacres Racetrack Finish line in 1993 from across the track
Close up of Longacres Finish Line and racetrack in 1993
Close up of Longacres Finish Line and racetrack in 1993
Last Race at Longacres Finish line - Sept 1992
Last Race at Longacres Finish line – Sept 1992

Tis a bit sad to view this next photo. The once proud exciting place is now a jumble of blackberries, trees, brambles and tall grass.

 

Longacres 2016 view of finish line with wall in ruins
Longacres 2016 view of finish line with wall in ruins

Want more about the ruins of Longacres?  Here are the three articles I wrote earlier this year with more information and videos.

Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Foundations

Longacres Ruins – The Green Wall

The Track – Longacres Ruins 2016

If you have photos or information around the racetrack do contact me. I am still trying to understand the age of the twin entrance units under I-405. Some new photos Bill Taylor sent me make me think they were added in the 60s. Any clues would be appreciated.

 

 

 

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Rambling free of Technology

Over the last year my blog has morphed from just a nature blog. I spent quite a bit of my time traveling the Duwamish/Green River basin and documenting the Ruins of Longacres racetrack. Of course there was a lot of nature and crows but these series of articles focused on a new flavor which was rambling or walking with an awareness of ones surroundings. This now seems to be a lost past time due to the ever-present small screens in our hands.

This brought me to changing the tag line of Crows of Arroyos Blog from Serendipity of Life to Rambling free of Technology.

To further this point here is a blog post from a fellow blogger I admire for his insightfulness. This one is about addiction to our technology.

Parallax – The Dystopian Future Is Here: Technology Addiction & Enslavement

Some questions to ponder. Do we find ourselves feeling connected with others through our tools? or have we really just disconnected ourselves from our current environment? or is this a combination of both things. In the end it is how we balance the tool with our day-to-day life and interpersonal interactions.

A scary side to this smart phone slavery is it restricts us to a smaller world. We only receive the news or information that we want. This isolates us from many of the difficult and troubling developments in our world today. It becomes easy to dismiss others who do not have our views and burrow deeper into our personal cubby holes.  No wonder we have such discord and disrespect in our world today.

My rambling along roads and rivers seems kind of simple when compared to this greater social issue. However, where ever I have roamed I found others to talk to and share my sightings. My hope is these interactions both in person and via the Crows of Arroyos are a small shining star to help break down these technology created barriers.

Duwamish Rock & Green River Trail bridge
Duwamish Rock & Green River Trail bridge

Here are some links to the articles mentioned above.  I hope they inspire you to start rambling free yourself.

Green River Trail Quest

Our only River – the Duwamish

My Duwamish Adventure

Ruins of Longacres – The Track

Georgetown Steam Plant

Posted in History and other topics

Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Track

The thrill of any race is the thunder of hooves or engines roaring. I cannot imitate that for you nor should I. There are many tracks across the world where this excitement exists but today we will visit a racetrack in ruins. My visit to document Longacres Racetrack in Renton, Washington left me humbled and sad but elated to feel the vibrations of such greatness. That energy is so strong it survives man’s attempt to destroy it.

The south end of the track is a place we will start. This is where the first turn is past the grandstands and club house. What I found the most amazing was the Lombardy Poplar trees that were planted along the edge.  They are still there plus their children.

Poplars still line the curve of Longacres Track deserted
Poplars still line the curve of Longacres Track deserted
Closeup of Poplars rotting away at Longacres in ruins
Closeup of Poplars rotting away at Longacres in ruins

These next pictures are at the very south end of the track. Let us look at how the track looks facing West and then East down at this southern end.  There is a new building being built off to the south and I entered the track from the remains of the perimeter road.

Back curve looking east at Longacres ruins
Back curve looking east at Longacres ruins
Back curve looking west at Longacres ruins
Back curve looking west at Longacres ruins
Longacres ruins of racetrack back curve
Longacres ruins of racetrack back curve
Old original poplars on back curve Longacres
Old original poplars on back curve Longacres

I wove my way around the fallen trees and brambles that are on the original track. Not much but blackberries and grass will grow on it. In the 1930s it was made to last with Green River sandy loam over a hard clay base. Everywhere around the track the youngster poplars and other small trees have taken over. However, the track is still open most of the way until I got to the remains of the backstretch.

First before I have to dig through the brier, I found a series of light post bases. The electricals are still hanging around too.

Light pillar in ruins at Longacres - NE corner track
Light pillar in ruins at Longacres – SE corner track
Electrical in pit at SE corner of Longacres racetrack ruins
Electrical in pit at SE corner of Longacres racetrack ruins
Northeast side of Longacres track 2016 with blackberries
East side of Longacres track 2016 with blackberries

This part of the track runs right into one of the Boeing Campus buildings and parking lots. The going isn’t too easy since it was left to go wild.

Backstretch remains of Longacres - view south
Backstretch remains of Longacres – view south

I popped out onto the edge of the parking lot and saw security driving by. Being a little paranoid I hustled off to the trail that cuts through the middle of the infield. This is the same path that Boeing built for their employees to access the Light Rail Station.  Here is a view of the infield looking south from this area. You can see the poplars marking the edge of the track like the sentinels they have been from the beginning.

Infield of Longacres ruins in 2016
Infield of Longacres ruins in 2016

The path cuts by the pond that Boeing built in the middle of what was the track. I assume they did this to fix the drainage problems that had plagued the track for years. It usually flooded every year from the Green River until the Howard Hansen Dam was built. That now controls the river and flooding is a long gone memory.  However, the area is still low and swampy. The ponds are a pretty place for wildlife and birds.

Pond Boeing created at Longacres infield
Pond Boeing created at Longacres infield

This brings us back to the West side of the track where the grandstands and finish line existed. Here are the views looking North and South along the track from the Boeing path. This side of the track is in much better shape and you can even imagine the horses racing by.

Longacres racetrack view north from Boeing Access road
Longacres racetrack view north from Boeing Access road
View South from Boeing Access road - Longacres track 2016
View South from Boeing Access road – Longacres track 2016

This next view is looking from about the finish line towards that first curve on the south end. We have now made it full circle.

Longacres in ruins racetrack looking south from about finish line
Longacres in ruins racetrack looking south from about finish line

I am going to finish this series of posts with a movie of the track coupled with some stills of the last race on September 21, 1992.

This was the third in a series on the Ruins of Longacres. The first was on The Foundations and can be found here – Longacres Ruins – The Foundations.   The second was on the Green Wall  and you can find it here – Ruins of Longacres – The Green Wall.  Then there is the first post that started all this, my post on the old entrance units under the freeway – Longacres Relics

Hope you enjoyed the visit to how time erodes all that man can create and once we leave the site nature has a way of taking her earth back.

Posted in History and other topics

Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Green Wall

At the Longacres Racetrack ruins there is an artifact still standing. It is the wall that separated the roaring crowd from the thundering hooves of the track. It was painted green to match the hedges that were neatly maintained along the track and had a metal rail on top of it.  That rail is gone but the cement part is alive and well. This is a Google map snip showing the distance it covers between two arrows.  It also will give you a good view of the entire Longacres Racetrack ruins.

Google map of Longacres Racetrack showing distance green wall is still intact
Google map of Longacres Racetrack showing distance green wall is still intact

Today over 20 years after all the buildings were razed, this wall still stands commemorating the thrill many had at this site. When I first saw it I was amazed by how it had survived the years despite the moss, trees, and brambles that have overgrown it. Little did I know as I followed it from North to South I would encounter almost 1,000 feet of it. It has only one large gap where Boeing pushed a maintenance road and path through it. Join me in going down memory lane as we walk along. Think of the sounds and emotions that have sunk into its concrete over the 60 years of house racing it saw.

Here is the very northern end of the wall. It has some electrical and post hanging on it that must have been night lights. Below the picture is a photo sent to me by Bill Taylor when I started my Longacres documentation.  He got it from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos, who has been the track photographer at Longacres, Churchill Downs and many other well-known tracks.

Northern end of wall with electrical hanging - Longacres Racetrack
Northern end of wall with electrical hanging – Longacres Racetrack
Photo of Longacres entrance units and parking lot - from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos
North end of Longacres – green wall end is near the tractors – from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos

Now imagine how the grandstands you see in this photo are gone. Nature has grown up and around all the concrete. This next series of photos is what it looks like today if you were standing on the spectator side.

After I walked around the north end I traveled down the actual racetrack. That was when I got goosebumps. Imagine the years of horses and jockeys parading, racing and breathing on this piece of ground. Today in 2016 the green wall marks that something special existed here.

Longacres Racetrack looking south from north end with view of green wall
Longacres Racetrack looking south from north end with view of green wall

Where that red netting in the distance is marks the middle of the complex. That is where the original grandstand, Club House and Jockey House stood. Boeing has pushed a maintenance road through this area. Along side of that road is a lighted path for employees to get to the Light Rail Station. You saw that in “The Foundations” post as it crossed the north end of the original buildings.

Near there is where I found that gate still attached to the wall. I have looked at a lot of photos online but cannot quite put my finger on what this was. Any help would be appreciated.

Broken gate and Boeing walkway thru original Longacres grandstand
Broken gate and Boeing walkway thru original Longacres grandstand
Green wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack - near original grandstand
Green wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack – near original grandstand
Wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack ruins
Wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack ruins

Tina who I met on my second visit showed me how to duck under the netting and a little way to the south I found what I think is where the finish line was. If I have this correct it is where the original grandstand met the Club house. From examining the foundations this gap in the wall makes me think it is the place.

Finish Line from grandstand side - Longacres Racetrack Ruins
Finish Line from grandstand side – Longacres Racetrack Ruins

Around this area the homeless or partying have left their mark. A huge concrete block that must have been a light standard has a bike helmet and other items strewn about. This also shows you how the Light Rail Station is in the distance.

Cement light post block on west side of Green Wall - Longacres
Cement light post block on west side of Green Wall – Longacres
Path back to Club House & site of found Italian Tile
Path back to Club House & site of found Italian Tile

To get your imagination going more, here is a snapshot of cement flooring on the grandstand side of the wall. This was where many cheered, cried and threw down their losing bet tickets.

Cement flooring near Green Wall - mid racetrack
Cement flooring near Green Wall – mid racetrack

Moving along there is a rather large graffiti piece that was left in the last year or two.

Graffiti on Longacres Green Wall Ruins
Graffiti on Longacres Green Wall Ruins

This next section I think it is just crumbling and knocked over from the trees but it also has the look of being cut out like this.

Crumbling Green Wall - Longacres Racetrack ruins
Crumbling Green Wall – Longacres Racetrack ruins

Another oddity in the wall is this opening with a curb type structure. This is close to the Club House best I can determine.

Wall with low curb near Longacres Club House site
Wall with low curb near Longacres Club House site

As we passed through this area on the track side Tina’s dog lunged toward an opening in the wall. It was a small garter snake who was not happy with him. What I find interesting of this shot of the snake is the round cement structure on the wall with an iron bar coming out.  What is that?

Green wall post with snake
Green wall post with snake (the snake is in the center of the photo)

This brings us to the southern end. As I stated in the Foundations section the Jockey House has a pair of large poplar trees to mark its southern end. This was helpful when trying to figure out where things were.  Here is a photo of them with a construction crane, the Light Rail Station and of course the green wall.

Old Poplars, crane and wall at south end of Longacres Racetrack ruins
Old Poplars, crane and wall at south end of Longacres Racetrack ruins

Off the right of this area (north for those keeping track) is this strange opening with protection on the two ends.  I don’t think this was done by Boeing during the demolition but I imagine it was to protect the horses and jockeys as they passed through the gap.

Green wall with protection near Jockey House - North side of opening
Green wall with protection near Jockey House – North side of opening
Green wall with protection near Jockey House
Green wall with protection near Jockey House

As we get closer to the end of the run the small poplar sucker trees dissipate and it is more of an  open field.  This first picture below you can see those small trees clustered around the wall.  In the second photo it may not have trees but it does have a big blackberry bush brier.  See how there is concrete here on the non-track side this photo is taken from. Two landmarks in these photos; one is the bird platform built for nesting osprey and the other is a reddish tree. The red tree is about the end of the wall.

Wall south end Racetrack - bird platform in distance
Wall south end Racetrack – bird platform in distance
Longacres wall south end under blackberries
Longacres wall south end under blackberries

And you knew this was coming… the end of the wall.  Hope you enjoyed your 1,000 feet of green wall.

 

Southern end of wall - Longacres Racetrack
Southern end of wall – Longacres Racetrack

Now it is time to jump the wall and  move to the all important track itself. This is where the action took place. I would say about half of it still exists in some form or other if you look at the aerial photo at the top of this post.   You can find The Track here – Ruins of Longacres – The Track.

For those that stumbled upon the Wall first here is a link to The Foundations Longacres Ruins – The Foundations.  Then there is the first post that started all this, my post on the old entrance units under the freeway – Longacres Relics

Posted in History and other topics

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.

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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.

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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

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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

 

Posted in History and other topics

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!!

UPDATE!!!  Entrance Units are now sharing their space with a SkatePark. Spent some time down there this weekend (Dec 2017) talking to the skaters. I am worried that the Relics could get bulldozed if the WDOT decide to remove the skate park.  One of the skaters told me that he had climbed into the unit…. wait for it…. he said it is dated 1964!!

Here is my follow up article with new pictures and more info.  The adventure continues on the trail of Longacres Ruins and History.

Longacres Relic and the Skate-Park