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Forget Valentine’s, Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

Rockville Fair Ground Old Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel at Rockville Fair, circa 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

Did you know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Ferris Wheel Day? This unofficial national holiday is held on this day to honor the birth of the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. What better way to celebrate Ferris Wheel Day than enjoying this old photograph of the Ferris Wheel taken at the Rockville Fairgrounds, courtesy of Lewis Reed. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.

For the singles and the “enough already with the Valentines”, here is your perfect alternative excuse. Go wish all your friends and family a Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

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And They’re Off! Rockville Fair Dirt Track Racing

This special post is a collection of early dirt track race photos that were taken by Lewis Reed at the Rockville Fair in the early 20th century. Held by the Montgomery County Agricultural Society (1846-1932) in Rockville, Maryland, the fair was known simply as the “Rockville Fair.”  The fair’s oval dirt track was used for bicycles, harness races and later, cars.

Since the mid-19th century, an annual county fair was held in Montgomery County for four days in the month of August. Families came in wagons and carriages to the Rockville Fairgrounds and stayed for the duration. 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.

Early action shots like these were difficult to take and are fairly rare, however, all of the photographs below were taken by Lewis Reed at the Rockville Fairgrounds in the early 1910-1920s. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore. As always, click the photos to get a better look.

Bicycle Racing

bicycle race rockville fairgrounds

This circa 1915 photo of an early bicycle race at the Rockville Fairgrounds gives a sense of just how popular the sport was at the time. Photo by Lewis Reed

Harness Racing

harnass race rockville fair

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

harnass race rockville

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

harnass race track

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

harnass race rockville fair

Crowds at the racetrack, Rockville Fair. Photo by Lewis Reed

harnass race rockville fair

Harness race at the Rockville Fair, circa 1910. Same vantage point as auto race photo below. Photo by Lewis Reed

Harness racing was one of the main attractions, but after the introduction of the automobile in the early 20th century, auto races took over…

Auto Racing

The photos below depict auto races at the Rockville fairgrounds. The photo of a harness race above was taken from approximately the same vantage point as the auto race below, which you don’t see very often in pictures from that era.

1920s car race Rockville Fair

Rockville drew huge crowds for auto races. Rockville Fair, August 1923. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920s car race Rockville Fair

Dusty Action – 1923 photo of the exciting auto races at Rockville Fair. Five racers are just coming around the bend on this dirt track with their tires spinning up dust in their wake. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920s car race Rockville Fair

This race car is a total mystery…what on earth is it? It appears to be a two-man race car. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920s car race Rockville Fair

More dirt track action. Photo by Lewis Reed

Below is a 1923 Washington Post ad for an auto race at the Rockville Fair.

Rockville Fair Race Ad

Rockville Fair Race Ad

A football field was designed within the oval of the old Fair racetrack in 1946.

Tent Sales: What 90 Years of Change Looks Like

Pictured below are Reed Brothers tent sales 90 years apart, in 1918 and 2008. The black and white photograph below was taken by Lewis Reed in 1918 showing Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds. The annual County Fair used to be held for four days in the month of August at the old Fairgrounds of Rockville, Maryland. Families came from every section of the Montgomery County in wagons and carriages, and stayed for the duration of the Fair. The Fair gave automobile dealers the opportunity to display their new models.

1918 – Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds

1918 Rockville Garage tent displaying Hudson Super Six, Oldsmobile, and Dodge Brothers Motor Cars at the Rockville Fair Grounds

The color photo below was taken some 90 years later in 2008, “Let’s Refuel America!” Tent Promo at Reed Brothers Dodge that let consumers lock in gas prices at $2.99 for three years. The novel Chrysler incentive offer was introduced at a time when high gas prices hammered sales of SUVs and trucks that dominated Chrysler’s line-up and was a way to help move the 2008 model gas guzzlers off the lot.

Tent Promo at Reed Brothers Dodge

2008 Tent Promo at Reed Brothers Dodge

Circa 1920s: Rockville Fairground Ferris Wheel

Rockville Fair Ground Old Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel at Rockville Fairground, circa 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

Forget Valentine’s, Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

Did you know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Ferris Wheel Day? This unofficial national holiday is held on this day to honor the birth of the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. What better way to celebrate Ferris Wheel Day than enjoying this old photograph of the Ferris Wheel taken at the Rockville Fairgrounds, courtesy of Lewis Reed. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.

For the singles and the “enough already with the Valentines”, here is your perfect alternative excuse. Go wish all your friends and family a Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

1920s Auto Races, Rockville Fair

1920s race car

This race car is a total mystery…what on earth is it? It appears to be a two-man race car. Photo by Lewis Reed

Early action shots like these are rare, however, the following photographs were taken by Lewis Reed at the Rockville Fairgrounds in the early 1910-1920s. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.

1920s Race Track

Dirt track action. Photo by Lewis Reed

auto races at rockville fair

August 1923. Auto race, Rockville Fair

August 25, 1923. Montgomery County, Maryland. "Auto races, Rockville Fair."

Crowds at the auto racetrack, Rockville Fair, August 1923

The photo above depicts an auto race at the Rockville fairgrounds. The photo of a harness race below was taken from approximately the same vantage point, which you don’t see very often in pictures from that era. Fairground race tracks, typically one-mile or half-mile dirt racing ovals with wide sweeping curves and grandstands for spectators, were easily adapted for the new sport of automobile racing.

Harness race rockville fair

Harness race at the Rockville fairgrounds, circa 1910. Same vantage point as auto race above. Photo by Lewis Reed

Below is a 1923 Washington Post ad for auto race at the Rockville Fair.

1923 auto races at Rockville Fair

Sources: Dirt Track Auto Racing, 1919-1941 – A Pictorial History By Don Radbruch

Shorpy.com – a vintage photo blog of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s

 

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