Way Back When: Celebrating July 4 in 1915
By Betsy J. Green
In addition to the usual fireworks and parade, everyone in Santa Barbara gathered at the racetrack in the afternoon to watch the rodeo. There was a 3/4-mile dash, a "standing Roman race" (chariots, maybe?), and a cowboy tug-of-war."
You can see the location of the racetrack on this 1897 map drawn by Alfred Poett. This area usually flooded in the winter, but was dry all summer long. It was used for races and circuses, and even as an airplane runway in 1919. This location is now the El Estero Water Resource Center. Somehow that just doesn’t have the same pizazz.
Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1919 -- is now available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at