Then & Now: Rockville Fair Harness Racing

The black and white photographs of the Rockville Fair harness races below were taken by Lewis Reed in 1910. The photographs were from the first incarnation of the Fair, held by the Montgomery County Agricultural Society (1846-1932) in Rockville and often known simply as the “Rockville Fair.” For this “Then & Now” feature, I have combined Lewis Reed’s original photographs for “then” and matched it with a corresponding contemporary shot for “now” to see the difference 109 years can make.

Rockville Fair Dirt Track Oval (THEN): Like many fairgrounds, the Rockville Fairgrounds included an oval track. Fairground race tracks, typically one-mile or half-mile dirt racing ovals with wide, sweeping curves and grandstands for spectators, were easily adapted for bicycles, harness racing, and the sport of car racing. Harness racing was one of the main attractions, but after the introduction of the automobile in the early 20th century, car races took over. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, where Richard Montgomery High School is today.

1910 Harness Race

Rockville drew huge crowds for harness races. Photo by Lewis Reed, circa 1910

1910 Rockville Fair Harness Race

Harness race at the Rockville Fair, circa 1910. All those throngs of people had plenty to see. Photo by Lewis Reed

1910 Rockville Fair Harness Race

Harness racers rounding the bend on the racetrack, Rockville Fairground circa 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

1910 Rockville Fair Harness Race

Bend on the harness racetrack, Rockville Fairground circa 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Fair Dirt Track Oval (NOW): In 1946, after the construction of Richard Montgomery High School, the old oval race track became a football field and stadium.

RMHS Football field and stadium

RMHS football field and stadium

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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