The Union Trotting Park was located on the current site of the Pittsfield Airport. The
track at the park is visible as an oval just below the center of this section of the 1933 USGS map of Pittsfield at right.
In June of 1893, Col. Morrill purchased the old Pittsfield Driving Park from J. E. Connor
and Isaac Lancey. The Colonel intends to make extensive repairs, the announcement of
the purchase stated, building stalls, judges stand, seats for the spectators, improving the
track, repairing the fences, and opening up a road from the park to Peltoma Avenue.
The opening ceremonies were held in August and it was a great day for Col. Morrill, the new
Union Park that had been practically idle for twenty years, and for the racing enthusiasts
throughout the area. Special trains were run into Pittsfield, bringing one of the largest
crowds ever seen at the Park. The feature of the day was a ladies carriage race, the first
in Maine. There was considerable doubt expressed when the event was first announced, but
Morrill went through with it and it was a sensational success. He was later asked to put on
a similar race at the other fairs in Maine and was invited to sponsor one in New Hampshire.
It was the beginning of many firsts for Col. Morrill in his chosen field.
Colonel Morrill continued his interest in harness racing until the day he died in 1935 at
the age of 93. He became the grand old man of racing, sponsoring dashes in all parts of the
state. He was the first to feature races for women, as we have noted; he was the first to
offer $1000 purses; he was the first to use modern sulkies. It would be difficult to
enumerate all the innovations and unusual quirks he sponsored to arouse the public
interest. He was a master showman. His last race program was put on at his old Union Park
just before it was turned into an airport. It was a glad day but also a sad day, full of
nostalgia. The grounds were pretty well run down, but everything was done to make it a Col.
Morrill Day. The writer, who happened to be a member of the Legislature at that time,
brought Governor Brann to Pittsfield to do proper honor to the Colonel, and both the
Governor and the Colonel enjoyed watching the races and reminiscing about the sport,
particularly as it touched on Lewiston, the Governors home town and the city in which the
Colonel had had many triumphant experiences.
After the airport was finished, the writer also had the privilege of taking Col. Morrill,
when he was well in his eighties, on his first flight. We circled Pittsfield several times
and at first the Colonel hung on to the sides of the open cockpit rather tightly, but then
he began to relax and look down at the town he had seen develop over a period of more than
fifty years. He was a weird sight with his goggles and his beard, split by the wind, and I
shall never forget his turning to me and shouting above the roar of the motor, Purty risky!
This from the man who had gone through the fiercest battles in the Civil War, lain wounded
for hours on the fields of one of those battles, and decorated more than once for bravery
in action! What a man!
Today they continue to hold a Col. Morrill's Day at the Bangor Fair and offer a Col. Morrill
race. This custom was inaugurated by J. R. Cianchette, who years after the Colonel had had
his day, became interested in harness racing.