Days Gone By - stories from the past

Did you know Birmingham once had two flourishing horse racetracks in the 1890s? – [old pictures and map]

Two horse racetracks flourished around the turn of the century in Birmingham, Alabama. Trotwood Park was located at 75th Street and 9th Avenue North.

The Birmingham Jockey Club was one mile in length and ran parallel to Third Avenue West. It was part of the Birmingham Fair Association.fairgrounds racing postcard

Birmingham Jockey Club was reorganized

The Birmingham Jockey Club, failed during it’s first year of operation. However, the club was reorganized in April 1889. The reorganization meeting was attended by Fred Sloss, J. W. Worthington, T. G. Hewlett, F. W. Dunn, I. Epstein, Jonas Schawb, E. S. Costello, P. J. Robert, Ed McCrossen, John Sutcliffe, Fred Averett, among other citizens and stockholders. The following board of directors were elected.

  • J. F. B. Jackson
  • B. F. Roden
  • A. B. Thompson
  • H. C. Brown
  • Fred Sloss
  • John B. Boddie
  • William Hardy
  • E. Solomon
  • Morris Adler

Col Jackson was unanimously elected as president, Mr. R. M. Mulford, cashier of the American National Bank was treasurer, and Mr. F. W. Dunn was general manager. The first event after reorganization was held the 1st week in July.

Trotwood Park in East Lake

Trotwood Park in East Lake closed shortly after the turn of the century. “Mrs. Thelma Green, of Helena, reported to the Birmingham News that she was born and lived in a house that served as the stables and grandstand for Trotwood Park. Her Aunt Susie and Uncle Charlie Graham, managed the park and her mother worked at the track boarding the horses.”i (Charlie and Susie were also the Aunt and Uncle of Becki McAnnaly, an Alabama Pioneers’ author).Trotwood Park MAP

Below is a picture of the main building at Trotwood Park. The people in the photo are probably Susie and Charlie Graham, mentioned above who managed the track for a period of time. There is no date on it, but it appears to be made in late 1800s.Charles and Susie Graham

Mrs. Green recalled, “I can still remember when I was 4 or 5 years-old and we’d run around the track and play out there. The house was built 12 foot in the air with the big front porch serving as the grandstands. The space under the house was fenced in and that was where the horses were stabled.”

“I wasn’t born until after they had quit running the races, but I sure remember the track, “ Mrs. Green continued. “I still remember my mother and aunt and uncle telling stories about the races, too. The races were for rich folks then. Birmingham’s rich folks would come and sit on the porch and watch the races every weekend. It was a big social event.”ii

Mrs. Green said there was no legalized gambling (“Aunt Susie would have run them all off”). Both horse tracks in those days were all harness races with a driver operating from a two-wheeled, one seat sulky carriage pulled behind the horse.

Judges at the state fair races, according to The Birmingham Daily News of 1891, “noted that year’s state fair races judges were Hamilton Bushey and David Bonner. Bushey was editor of Turf, Field and Farm, a well-respected horseman’s journal, and Bonner was the ‘most noted owner of fast horse in the world’ and founder of the New York Ledger.”iii

Horses and drivers who raced were not usually from Birmingham but in 1902, Katie S, belonged to a Birmingham owner, stole the show with a big victory by beating horses from Kentucky, North Carolina and around the country.iv


  1. Weekly Age Herald – May 1, 1889
  2. Trotwood information and photograph submitted by Becki McAnnaly

iTwo Horse tracks operated at Century’s Turn, Birmingham News

iiTwo Horse tracks operated at Century’s Turn, Birmingham News

iiiTwo Horse tracks operated at Century’s Turn, Birmingham News

ivTwo Horse tracks operated at Century’s Turn, Birmingham News

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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