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DPChallenge Forums >> Current Challenge >> An Abandoned Icon from the 60's to share.
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04/08/2005 11:15:34 PM · #1
Hi all,

Seeing as I am not going to Arizona during the time frame for the Abandoned Building challenge, I thought I would share something that you will find very little mention of on the net, nor will you find many images of it.

It is the abandoned Phoenix Trotter Park just outside of Goodyear, AZ and is very visible from Interstate 10. Opened in 1965 & abandoned a few years later, was used for harness racing. It was originally to be built for $3 million, but after Italian architects & contractors were brought in, it wound up closer to $10 million, bankrupting its builder.
Some future travelers from space probably will regard it in the same way Stonehenge in Britain is regarded today - a monument built in the desert by sun worshipers. Sad story from start to finish.

Any of you driving I10 that have seen it and wondered as I did, wonder no more. Had a spur of the moment "field trip" one day and managed to find a way into the property one day while driving to my Mom's, and though not taken at the greatest time of day, still give a basic closer view of this place.

(EDITED to remove broken thumbnails)

It was a very creepy and uneasy visit, as it felt like I was wandering around an post-apocalyptic ruin of sorts, waiting to have a mutant coming running out or something. The noises from the birds there (a lot of them!) and the echoes from the freeway, especially when an 18-wheeler was decelerating would bounce of the structure. Very hard to describe the feelings with just a few pictures, but it was a visit I will never forget.

Message edited by author 2007-02-27 01:00:01.
04/08/2005 11:27:20 PM · #2
What was it being built for?
04/08/2005 11:29:18 PM · #3
Originally posted by Artyste:

What was it being built for?

Duh - edited it - Opened in 1965 & abandoned a few years later, was used for harness racing.

Thanks for the heads-up on my oversight.
04/08/2005 11:40:55 PM · #4
If I had the money I would buy it and make it my estate.

So much potential.

Cool shots.
04/08/2005 11:41:56 PM · #5
Is it for sale?
04/08/2005 11:44:11 PM · #6
Goodyear AZ? Reminds me of the Goodyear Blimp hanger outside of Houston. I know they moved from there years ago.....I wonder if it's "abandoned" now?
04/08/2005 11:50:29 PM · #7
Originally posted by kpriest:

Is it for sale?

Good question.
There has been a lot of clean-up in the last 6 months (the grafitti was very artistic) and I heard or read something about it being revamped.
It was used in a movie set once, and created quite an issue due to a large number of birds being killed from pyrotechnics.

There is so little on the net about it, I come up as the first hit in Google from a pictorial I did on TrekEarth.
04/08/2005 11:58:57 PM · #8
Though searches on Google come up dead, selecting the view cached version comes up with this:

"The track -- Phoenix Trotting Park -- opened in 1965. It was originally supposed to be built for $3 million, but after Italian architects and contractors were brought in it wound up closer to $10 million, essentially bankrupting its builder, James Dunnigan, who had operated Buffalo Raceway. It was built of reinforced concrete, and could have withstood a direct hit by a hydrogen bomb. Delvin Miller, harness racing's Mr. Everything, implored Dunnigan to forego building a track, and instead workout a deal with Turf Paradise to install lights for a million or so and race harness nights at that thoroughbred track. That advice, feasible at the time, could have resulted in harness racing today in Phoenix. Instead, Phoenix Trotting Park went belly up and was bought by Sportservice, to make sure no reincarnation took place and its greyhound operation in Phoenix was protected. It is still standing, and some future travelers from space probably will regard it in the same way Stonehenge in Britain is regarded today......a monument built in the desert by sun worshipers. Sad story from start to finish. As for pix, horse magazines of 1965 or Phoenix papers of that date probably would have them, and Harness Racing Museum in Goshen, NY --845-294-6330 -- is most logical source, or perhaps Phoenix Historical Society."

Michigan horseman, Dean Fileccia added the following:
"I was fortunate enough to winter train at the Phoenix track the winter of 82-83. It was intended to be a premier facility but placement and the weather didn't help their cause. I understand from talking to some of the residents, that not only were the roads not adequate being 20 mile out of town for the expected traffic, but when they had scheduled the meet was the time of year that they had drenching rains causing washouts and impossible to cross floods. The facility is entirely built from poured concrete as are all of the barns. The barn sections were poured on the ground and lifted into place after setting. There were two tracks, the main 5/8ths and a mile training track which we used. I understand that the facility is still in use but for show horses. I don't believe that the grandstand can ever be used. Over the years the facing, which was about two feet thick had separated from the main portion. I was told it would cost more to fix than to replace. It was eerie going through the deserted grandstand, we ran across old tickets from the original meet and old money sacks. By the way Don, if you would like more info, the track is actually located in Goodyear, AZ (where they build fly and repair the Goodyear blimps) and I might still have the supt. number around somewhere"

Phoenix Trotting Park Suspends
Racing Indefinitely
From December 14, 1966 Harness Horse

Citing insufficient public support, Phoenix Trotting Park some 20 miles west of Phoenix, Ariz., suspended racing indefinitely on Wednesday, December 7, 1966, after 13 cards of a 58-night meeting had been held. The track first opened in 1965, but neither the inaugural meeting nor the meeting last winter were successful.

Hopes that interest in betting on harness racing would be sufficient this year to support a meeting faded soon after the November 6 opening. In a desperate effort to attract fans, the management instituted free parking and admission, added quarter horse racing and on Thanksgiving Day offered a special turkey dinner with all the trimmings for 97 cents. Attendance rose to as many as 3,000 or more, but the per capita wagering remained at less than $10 per person.

In announcing the decision to suspend operations, James J. Dunnigan, Sr., the track president, stressed that they had made every effort to avoid the move in order to prevent hardships to owners, trainers, and drivers. At the same time Dunnigan expressed his belief that harness racing might return sometime in the future. He based his optimism on the strong possibilities of additional new industry in the area, plans to extend the freeway adjacent to the track, and other economic factors. Future plans for the $10 million plant are indefinite, Dunnigan said.
04/09/2005 12:13:43 AM · #9
Very interesting. Thanks for posting!
04/09/2005 01:01:56 AM · #10
Oh wow... I might have to make a trip out that way this summer... that is wild! Thanks for posting those pics! Sorry you aren't getting to enter them in the "abandoned" challenge! I think "Trotter13.jpg" is a very nice image without anything else done to it!
A:")
04/09/2005 08:44:01 AM · #11
Originally posted by Texas Mama:

Goodyear AZ? Reminds me of the Goodyear Blimp hanger outside of Houston. I know they moved from there years ago.....I wonder if it's "abandoned" now?


I live near there. They tore down the blimp hangar about ten years ago. There's a Home Depot on the site now.
04/09/2005 10:24:17 AM · #12
Originally posted by DannyM:

Originally posted by Texas Mama:

Goodyear AZ? Reminds me of the Goodyear Blimp hanger outside of Houston. I know they moved from there years ago.....I wonder if it's "abandoned" now?


I live near there. They tore down the blimp hangar about ten years ago. There's a Home Depot on the site now.


So, you're saying the built another blimp hangar?
04/09/2005 11:06:07 AM · #13
This site has some really cool night shots and some additional insight. http://www.lostamerica.com/lostframe.html Its located in gallery 3
04/09/2005 12:17:26 PM · #14
Very interesting photos, thanks for the post. If I were a hobo I'd definitely live there!
04/10/2005 08:49:19 PM · #15
Originally posted by photodude:

This site has some really cool night shots and some additional insight. http://www.lostamerica.com/lostframe.html Its located in gallery 3

I've seen those and agree - they are stunning.
If I had unlimited time to be there when I wanted to, rather than when I happened there, I would shoot the place very differently.
For now, seems I have about the only "collection" to be found on the web.
02/27/2007 01:00:24 AM · #16
Originally posted by Brad:

Hi all,

Seeing as I am not going to Arizona during the time frame for the Abandoned Building challenge, I thought I would share something that you will find very little mention of on the net, nor will you find many images of it.

It is the abandoned Phoenix Trotter Park just outside of Goodyear, AZ and is very visible from Interstate 10. Opened in 1965 & abandoned a few years later, was used for harness racing. It was originally to be built for $3 million, but after Italian architects & contractors were brought in, it wound up closer to $10 million, bankrupting its builder.
Some future travelers from space probably will regard it in the same way Stonehenge in Britain is regarded today - a monument built in the desert by sun worshipers. Sad story from start to finish.

Any of you driving I10 that have seen it and wondered as I did, wonder no more. Had a spur of the moment "field trip" one day and managed to find a way into the property one day while driving to my Mom's, and though not taken at the greatest time of day, still give a basic closer view of this place.

(EDITED to remove broken thumbnails)

It was a very creepy and uneasy visit, as it felt like I was wandering around an post-apocalyptic ruin of sorts, waiting to have a mutant coming running out or something. The noises from the birds there (a lot of them!) and the echoes from the freeway, especially when an 18-wheeler was decelerating would bounce of the structure. Very hard to describe the feelings with just a few pictures, but it was a visit I will never forget.


Bumping to re-kindle this, as I recently re-uploaded the images, this time with a bit better editing.

476071.jpg 476073.jpg 476074.jpg 476075.jpg

476076.jpg 476077.jpg 476078.jpg 476079.jpg

476080.jpg 476072.jpg 476081.jpg 476387.jpg 476388.jpg

Message edited by author 2007-02-27 13:03:01.
02/27/2007 03:41:46 AM · #17
Very interesting photos and background story. Quite eerie.

By the way, you're number one on a Google for 'trotter park' :-)
02/27/2007 04:39:53 AM · #18
I've noticed that on Google - very odd - almost like the place isn't there.
Eerie isn't the word for it - all the noises are amplified, and the sheer size of it is very intimidating. As I left, I stopped and looked back a couple times, expecting a zombie to be hanging on the bumper of my car...
02/27/2007 04:58:04 AM · #19
Now if you could just import some northern lights to the area... Interesting find, Brad, and I don't think I'd go there at night.

And who knows? Maybe your pictoral essay will get picked up by someone who sees it on Google and decides to renovate the place.

Message edited by author 2007-02-27 05:02:53.
02/27/2007 05:12:36 AM · #20
Hey Brad, My parents go to Buckeye, AZ. every winter and I have visited them there and seen this place. It is eerie looking. I was thinking they told me that a movie with Bruce Willis was shot there. My aunt works for the city of Goodyear, I'm going to ask her about it.
02/27/2007 11:59:47 AM · #21
I'd have been less worried about zombies and more worried about gang members. :)

Did you try to go inside the structure at all?
02/27/2007 12:24:08 PM · #22
I might have been stupid enough to take my Camry down a dirt road that looked like it was used for hand grenade practice, around the ditch, through the broken-down chain link fence just to get up to the place, but was smart enough to not climb the secondary fence and go inside. Might have been attacked by the birds that were living there by the thousands.
;)
02/27/2007 12:35:33 PM · #23
wonder why I never visited when I lived there? hmmmmm
02/27/2007 12:51:16 PM · #24
Great post Brad. I've long wanted to explore that area but figured it was probably well cordoned off. Plus, I live on the opposite side of Phoenix ... so taking an hour drive to a less-than-safe place only to try and find a way in for the hope of some shots just never made it a priority. ;-)
02/27/2007 01:03:36 PM · #25
Originally posted by msdoubletrouble:

wonder why I never visited when I lived there? hmmmmm

Intelligence?
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