100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

National Guard Closes Racetrack In Indiana

The Progressive movement in American politics is one based on reform. It took aim at unfair labor practices, women’s and children rights, social welfare the rights of the middle class. But it also took aim at society’s vices and wanted an prohibition of not only alcohol but gambling as well. Horse Racing had been dependent on admission charges for their prize money but had just recently started using stake races in which horse owners paid an entry fee that became part of the purse. High profile stake races included the Belmont, the Preakness, and the Kentucky Derby. Racing and bookmaking had become corrupt and rife with organized crime. The Progressive movement passed restrictive laws and banned horse racing in many states. The number of tracks fell from 300 in 1900 to only 25 by 1908. Many tracks have embraced Air Shows as an alternative source of income taking advantage of the grandstand seating.

The Mineral Springs Racing Track in Porter, Indiana holds races where illegal betting takes place, run by Chicago organized crime. The governor of the state is also the Vice-Presidential candidate running with Governor Woodrow Wilson on the Democratic ticket. With the election a few weeks away, governor Marshall decides to take action.

On October 22, 1912 3 companies of the Indiana National Guard dressed for combat moved on the Mineral Springs Racing Track and shut down racing. It was drizzling rain but 1,000 people had showed up to wager. The races were stopped by uniformed troops with mounted bayonets. The president of Mineral Springs tracks denounced the interference of the troops as “social anarchy.”

Indiana National Guard troops control crowd of gamblers
Mineral Spring Race Track
Porter, Indiana
October 22, 1912

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