Racetrack’s legacy endures

Michael Bushnell
The Northeast News

The Kansas City-Smithville Race Track grandstands and the first turn are pictured on this postcard published by the Auburn Greeting Card Company in the 1920s.

The racetrack was host to mainly harness races. Races were held daily, except Mondays, during the season.
Smithville was named for Humphrey and Nancy Smith, who came from New York state in 1824 with their seven children and built a water-powered mill on the Little Platte River five miles north of the present city limits.

The racetrack was built in 1925 by a group of Kansas City and Clay County businessmen who formed an association and raised the money. Betting at that time was illegal. However, with Kansas City being known as a wide open town, a $2 “donation” got the patron a race card and betting privileges.
In 1928, new promoters took over the track and running horses replaced the harness horses as the primary draw.

Before the season was over, however, the promoters left town and left behind a mountain of bad debts. Another attempt the following year to reopen failed. The rural people were not as interested in running horses and the track was considered too far out to attract large crowds from Kansas City, given there was no direct rail line to the tiny hamlet.

Later automobile and motorcycle races were held there. In the 1940s the large grandstand facing the track was razed and the track faded into a distant memory. Finding the old racetrack today would be difficult given the site is currently about 80 feet under the surface of Smithville Lake, after the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the Little Platte River.

The postcard was one of a series of 16 cards of the old racetrack photographed by a Kansas City Journal Post photographer. Leon Morton, who owned the general merchandise store in Smithville, Elmer Iden of the Mitchell- Iden drugstore, purchased the negatives and had over 25,000 postcards printed. The black and white postcards sold for 2 cents each at Morton’s and the drugstore.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Goetz Country Club Special, the Bright Beer!

    August 10th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher The new $750,000 M.K. Goetz Brewery wasn’t built in Kansas City until 1936, but it’s long, storied […]


    Private Label Branding: Katz Beer style

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell If a product bore the Katz label, consumers could be sure they were paying the lowest price […]


    Boomer Throwback: Heidel Brau

    July 27th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Chances are, if your parents shopped at Milgram’s Food Stores here in Kansas City, you probably had […]


    When America Went Dry: Prohibition in the 1920s

    July 20th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Mention the word prohibition to a room full of brewers and distillers and you’ll likely be met […]


    The Beer that made Milwaukee famous

    July 13th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher The Joseph Schlitz brewing company entered the Kansas City market in earnest when they built a depot […]


    Scandal, suicide part of Lemp Brewing history

    July 6th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher While William J. Lemp Brewing Company did not have a brewing presence in Kansas City, the Romanesque […]


    Oldest brewery west of the Hudson River

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Royal Brewing Company of Weston, Mo., was founded in 1842 by John Georgian. Upon his death in […]


    Northeast’s own, Heim Brewery

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This week we continue our summer postcard series featuring early local brewery operations and their families. No […]


  • Hotel linked to city’s rich beer brewing history

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher This summer The Northeast News will be spotlighting local beer history through our weekly historic postcard column. […]


    Refinery integral to early Sugar Creek development

    June 8th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This early hand-colored postcard shows the Sugar Creek Refinery, Standard Oil Co., near Kansas City, Mo. The […]


    Dinosaur Park, South Dakota’s Dino-mecca

    May 31st, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This week, once again in conjunction with our “Remember This” column, we bring you a linen era […]


    Snap, Crackle, Pop, Rice Krispies

    May 25th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This week we feature two postcard-like, ink blotter cards marketed by the Kellogg’s Cereal Company of Battle […]


    Livestock Exchange Building stands as a testament to once proud Stockyard operation

    May 18th, 2022
    by

    By Micheal Bushnell About two years after the opening of the Hannibal Bridge over the Missouri River in 1869, the […]


    Great Flood displaces 22,000

    May 11th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This black and white photo postcard, published by the Southwest News Company of Kansas City, shows Union […]


    Old flower shop slated for newsroom as award-winning Northeast News transitions to non-profit business model

    May 4th, 2022
    by

    Michael BushnellPublisher Rose Marie Serrone opened her flower and gift shop in a single story Art Deco-style building in 1946 […]


    Mount Washington Park still a gem

    April 27th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This postcard, published by the Webb-Freyschlag Mercantile Company, shows a peaceful view of Swan Lake in Mount […]


    Let’s go see Kansas City!

    April 20th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell “See Kansas City and know what you’re seeing,” states the description on the back of this Curt […]


    Nathan Scarritt, Melrose Methodist Church keys to early Northeast development

    April 13th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell A far cry from its humble beginnings in 1887 as a tent, this week’s real photo postcard […]


    Private mailing cards a true work of art

    April 6th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell As a public communication medium, postcards made their debut at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Ill., in […]


    Camp Prairie Schooner – Still a destination for girls in Scouting

    March 30th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell The description on the back of this real photo postcard describes Camp Prairie Schooner Girl Scout Camp […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?

    Remember This?

    August 10th, 2022
    by

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.