Wheeling Downs
Wheeling Downs in Wheeling, West Virginia opened as a thoroughbred race track in 1937. The following notice appeared in several local newspapers on opening day on September 2nd: A throaty cry of "they're off" opens today a 15-day race meeting at the new $75,000 Wheeling Downs, the first in the Tri-State area in four years.

The track was rebuilt in 1945 when it was taken over by William G. Lias. The grandstand was destroyed by fire in December 1962. After being rebuilt several years later, it was used for both flat and harness racing.

On January 24, 1975, a brief article ran in the Zanesville, Ohio newspaper, The Time Recorder regarding declining attendance at Wheeling Downs:

Wheeling Downs is going to close its harness racing meet Feb. 15, two weeks earlier than planned because of competition from two nearby tracks. The Meadows at Washington, Pa., has moved up its opening to Feb. 14, and Waterford Park at Chester [snip] goes back to night racing Feb. 9, according to Wheeling Downs General Manager Thomas Shehan. "There's no beating around the bush about the reason for our change in the closing date," Shehan said in citing the plans of the other tracks.

Wheeling Downs postcards

By February 1975, greyhound racing was brought up in a bill in the West Virginia State Judiciary Committee. The president of Wheeling Downs, Joe Cresci stated that the harness racing at the Meadows Track put Wheeling in "serious jeopardy" and that greyhound racing was "the only hope" to keep Wheeling Downs open. [source: The Newark Advocate newspaper. Newark, Ohio. Feb. 14, 1975.]

On August 18, 1976, Wheeling Downs opened for greyhound racing after the racing complex had been revamped. According to the East Liverpool , Ohio newspaper, The Evening Review, "...the parent organization, Odgen Corp., has invested some $1.5 million into the mammoth reconstruction program, with the new results being what they believe to be one of the finest greyhound facilities in the dog racing sport. Along with the new quarter-mile track, there is a bright new Tote Board, and enlarged grandstand area..." The August 11, 1976 article goes on to state the new kennel buildings can house more than 700 greyhounds.

Since 2002, Wheeling Downs has been known as the Wheeling Island Racetrack & Gaming Center. Visit the official website for more on the facility.

Below are some programs and press photos from Wheeling Downs. As you can see from the images, Wheeling Island was prone to periodic flooding over the years.

Click on any of the links below to view the Wheeling Downs programs.

September 2, 1946
October 14, 1947
September 8, 1956
September 21, 1956
November 2, 1956
November 12, 1956
May 9, 1959
May 25, 1962
May 30, 1962
June 4, 1962
June 5, 1962
June 6, 1962
June 9, 1962
June 15, 1962
June 22, 1962
June 30, 1962
September 8, 1962
September 11, 1962
September 21, 1962

Crowd watching Triffin Neibor (8) win the fifth race of opening day's program at Wheeling Downs race track yesterday. J. Wagner was the jockey on the winnder. An inaugural gathering of 7,587 turned out to welcome back the sport at the beautiful West Virginia half-mile racing strip.

Entrance to Wheeling Downs. Automobile transportation on Wheeling Island was becoming difficult as waters from the Ohio River reached flood stage. The river is expected to crest at 47 feet.

They're off and running, but it's not the horses at Wheeling Downs on Wheeling Island in the middle of the Ohio River. Speed or rowboats would be more to the liking during the October river flood.

A daring youth exhibits some fancy bicycle acrobatics as Ohio River water reached the entrance to Wheeling Downs race track. The rising water is expected to hit 36 feet - flood stage.

Grandstand which was grounded by million dollar fire on the evening of December 20th at Wheeling Downs.

Undated photo: Buses at Wheeling Downs with Clevelanders set to depart for Cleveland.

Win picture dated July 28, 1956

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