Snow Storm Forces Horse Racing Fans to Sleep at Bowie Race Track
Bowie Race Track, February 23, 1958, Baltimore Sun
February 15, 1958 (55 years ago today): Eighteen inches of snow fell on Bowie, causing a massive traffic jam, and forcing hundreds of horse racing fans to spend the night at the Bowie Race Track. Nearly 14,000 fans came to Bowie for the races despite the forecast for heavy snow. One foot of snow fell by the time the last race of the day was over around 5:00pm. Thousands of cars soon left the parking lot, and drivers found the country roads hard to navigate. Several of the lead cars weren't able to make it up slippery hills, stranding an estimated 3,000 cars behind them. A tractor-trailer overturned on Route 197 making matters worse. People waited in their cars for hours, and many ran out of gas. Cars were abandoned, and some racing fans walked as far as three miles back to the warmth of the clubhouse. Despite the fact that the races were over, heavy betting continued on games of craps, poker and gin rummy. Track officials estimated that 250 gallons of coffee and 6,000 to 8,000 sandwiches were given to the stranded fans. The Pennsylvania Railroad dispatched a special train to the track later that night, and 1,600 passengers were taken to Penn Station in Baltimore. Hundreds of fans spent the night at the race track, sleeping on couches, in the track's infirmary or anywhere else they could find to sleep. A second train came back to the race track the following morning to pick up more passengers.
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