Michael Bushnell

Entitled “Elm Ridge Driving Park”, this week’s historic postcard shows the Elm Ridge Race Track. Only in operation from April 28, 1904 through late in 1906, the Elm Ridge Race Track was located a block east of The Paseo between Fifty-ninth and Sixty-third streets. The site was chosen carefully by the original operators of the track because of the rolling hills and sweeping vistas. In terms of amenities and track quality, the track compared quite favorably to many of the “finer” tracks in the country.

The track’s opening day was reported in the May 1st edition of the New York Times, “Over 20,000 boisterous fans gathered for the Kansas City Jockey Club’s Elm Ridge Track’s opening day on April 28, 1904.” The horse that won the $5,000 purse for the main event that day was Moharib, a popular horse on the Midwestern racing circuit.

Sleeping rooms in the clubhouse could be rented by members for the lofty rate of $12 per week for accommodations that included a bathroom. This was especially popular during the warmer months.

In 1905, a nine-hole golf course was constructed with holes on both the inside and outside of the track. A tunnel was built under the track to unify the course that opened for play on June 1st, 1905.

On March 18th, 1907, Missouri’s General Assembly dealt a fatal blow to horse racing in Missouri with the passage of Senate Bill 76, a bill sponsored by Governor Joseph Folk that specifically outlawed betting on horse racing. Without the added draw of betting on the horses, the once sell-out crowds at Elm Ridge dwindled quickly.  

By early 1908, Elm Ridge was operated as an automobile and motorcycle-racing venue. Celebrated race car driver Barney Oldfield is said to have set a record at Elm Ridge during a 1908 exhibition, driving a car around the track at a blistering pace of sixty-one seconds.

In 1912, ten prominent Kansas Citians each plunked down roughly $6,000 each to charter the new Blue Hills Club to be located on the grounds of the old Elm Ridge Race Track. Soon the new club had over 600 members. The 9th and 18th green occupied the area where the grandstand and paddock were originally located. The original clubhouse was enlarged and re-designed for golfers instead of horse enthusiasts. The club operated in this location until 1962 when the Bushman company purchased the land to develop the Metro Plaza Shopping Center and office buildings. The Blue Hills Club then moved to a location just east of State Line & 120th street.

The message on the card reads” Where there will be held an old fashioned fair this fall. We’ll go. Paul.” It was sent to Miss Rose Dierks, Armour & The Paseo, Kansas City, MO. on May 24th 1907.