From the Southern Opinion, 6/27/1867
The Suburban Resorts Around and in Richmond – A Swing Around the Circle.
Blest be Gambrimus, who discovered lager beer! He hath his breweries in every land; his disciples fill every salon where lager spirts from the surcharged cask, and where Teutonick blood flows in Teutonick veins, measured only by the capacity of the mugs.
We Americans, who swill the extract of cornwheat and rye concocted into the fiery stuff that puts fight into our fists and fury upon our tongues, may learn a wholesome lesson from our German friends, whose lymphatick temperaments take more kindly to the beverage, one touch of which makes the whole world friends.
The city is encircled by a cordon of beer gardens, or resorts where lager flows as a specialty. Among the most prominent of these are the Hermitage Fair Grounds Trotting Park, the Spring Park (formerly Buchanan Springs,) Hattorf's Resort, and a number of others that we shall mention shortly. The Trotting Park, ??? Camp Lee [next line is illegible] of Messrs. Ledley & Hayward, two gentlemen well known to the citizens of Richmond. They have gone to great expense, influenced by a desire to subserve the wants of Richmond and vicinity. The old buildings of the Agricultural Society, subsequently occupied by the Confederate Government, have been removed in part and partly restored, and the most wholesome effect of whitewash, paint and repair is observable upon all the unique and imposing collection of buildings that remain. Indeed, the visitor to Camp Lee at the present time would scarcely recognize the place, such a pleasant transformation has been wrought in the buildings and adjacent grounds. – The undergrowth has bee cleared of weeds; the sward has been leveled and improved, and an air of attractiveness and repose imparted to every feature. The main central building has been nicely transformed into salons, bar, tables for harmless gaming, etc., while just across the beautifully shaven lawn are apartments specially provided for the use of private parties. To the west looms up that somber clump of oaks beneath which, during the war, all the military executions usually took place. This is an historical quarter, but unless visitors desire to visit this spot they need not stray within sight of it. Beyond is a little retired knoll, hid away by rank weeds, where a number of the wards of the Bureau,
"Weary of Life's march,"
Have hidden themselves away. The race track lies to the east of the main enclosure, which contains about sixty-three acres. The enclosure was put up by the Agricultural Company, who are the owners of the grounds, but Messrs. Ledley & Hayward, the lessees, have expended a liberal sum in the decorations of the buildings and grounds. Te track is half a mile, circular, beautiful graded and sand??? and during these balmy mornings gentlemen who are the fortunate owners of fast turn-outs may be seen spinning like a top around the place. The track is pronounced by jockeys one of the best in the States. A great many gentlemen, who never appear on the "turf," "time" their nags upon it, usually about sunrise on a fair morning.
Staid, slow-paced Richmond society would perhaps be shocked at the sight of such gentlemen as D. W. T, F. M. C, A. V. B., H. G. F., C. C., and others whose initials we could give, dashing along, ribbons taut, and dust flying from iron-shod heels, impelled by the exclamations of "Hi! Hi!" "Ge lang!," Don't tell it in Gath, but the same gentlemen have appeared, and will appear to-morrow, in St. Paul's and other sanctuaries. They're none the worse for that little circular ride which tested the mettle of their respective steeds.
Rivalry is everything in business and on the "plank," and he who scores 2.40 on that highway may hold as good a passport to heaven as some who rise at 7 A. M. on Sunday morning and busy themselves with hymn books instead of horses.
Since the opening of the Hermitage Trotting Park, in April, several very successful races have come off between noted horses, which have given the park quite a reputation. Among the horses entered and run were "Grey Sam," "Fanny Baker," "Katie Darling," "Napier," and "Wm. E. Mulford."
Harry Wright, of Wirght's Varieties, is the owner of "Grey Sam;" he is a horse of ordinary capabilities, easily beaten when well matched.
"Katy Darling" is owned by Mr. Ralph Baker. She has run her best, and is not expected to exceed her last time, which is less than that of "Grey Sam."
"Napier" is owned by Mr. William Ledley, and he is the acknowledged king of the Richmond course. He is groomed at the Hermitage stable and Mr. William Walls, the tutor of Hiram Woodruff and other noted turfmen, has charge of him. Mr. Walls is very abstemious, thinks only of his charge and how to drive him so as to win, and in this respect he resembles Hiram Woodruff, whose equal has never appeared in the United States.
Mr. Parker Wescott is the reputed owner of the horse "Mulford," but there is a charge among turfmen that Mr. Wescott played "foal" with his horse against "Napier," entered by Mr. Ledley to have been ridden by Walls. Mr. Wescott wants Walls for his driver, and because Walls would not "break a rein" with Ledley, he flew the track and paid the forfeit of fifty dollars, we believe. Hence Mr. Wescott is in bad odour on the turf, and a challenge of one thousand dollars, made by Ledley on the heel of his forfeit, has not been met. Wescott has ever been a great boaster, but if this "put up" is not covered, Wescott will appear no more in the trotting park of the Hermitage [next two lines illegible] in upon him against any horse that can be introduced. "Napier" is a roan, well built, with a tremendous forward movement; slightly sprinkled with grey on the hinder parts. Sired by Kossuth, out of a Messenger mare, he comes of exalted pedigree. He is nine years old, and not yet in his prime. On Monday last his trainer, Walls, the best driver in the South, "worked" him for exercise six miles around the course in twenty minutes, according to correct time. This was extraordinary. Negotiations are now going on with a party in Baltimore, the owner of two of the fastest trotters in the North, and a competing trial between "Napier" and some of Fiora Temple's stock will come off at the Hermitage course next fall.
Before bidding adieu to Hermitage Trotting Park, we would say to gentlemen with a hankering after twinkling wheels and flying dust, that nowhere can a more agreeable day be spent than at this resort.
THE SPRING PARK.
Mr. Edward Euker, the proprietor of the Spring Park, whilom "Buchanan Springs," at the head of Clay Street, a quarter of a mile distant from the Hermitage, does not keep a race course, nor trot fast horses; but he keeps something that is refreshing after a contest on the "turf" – lager drawn from subterranean depths, and the very best of liquors.
Parties, pulling at a desperate pace from the races, generally rein up at Euker's Spring Park, which is on the "home stretch," returning to the city. It is a great resort for pick-nicks and social parties. Every Monday evening there is musick in the grove by Kessnick's string band. At three o'clock every afternoon the park is thrown open to the publick.
Since Euker took possession, the park has been beautified to an extent which can only be appreciated by a visit. The resort is shut in from the turmoil without by ample fencing and a cordon of foliage, and prominent stands a line of marilla cherry trees, dropping the ripest and most delicious of that fruit. Adjacent the bar room and reception rooms, built two years ago, has been constructed a new dancing hall, fifty feet by thirty, and beneath the hall are the deep, dark and unfathomable vaults, where are stowed the beer drawn from time to time to satisfy the thirst of visitors. These vaults, which extend a great way under ground, cost alone some ten thousand dollars, which, with the re-walling of the famous spring and fountains, necessitated an outlay on Mr. Euker's part of not less than twelve thousand dollars.
The Spring Park is generally frequented of afternoons and evenings by Germans and Americans, and the musick of the waits and quadrille floats out upon the air from early twilight until a very late hour.
Broad street, Christian Schaffer, proprietor, a favourite resort for several years, is now closed, and awaits a tenant. The grounds are large, the buildings ample, the shade luxuriant. There is scarcely a better location for a well conducted beer garden in the hands of a popular and enterprising man. Elba Park was once the residence of John Minor Botts, but we don't know that this fact adds anything to its popularity.
THE OTHER RESORTS
Of lesser not are H. A. Hattorf's, near the terminus of Second street. This is a lager beer garden, without any pretensions or special arrangements for parties. But his lager is excellent – foamy as sea-froth, and exhilarating as champagne. Hattorf's is the cozey resort of obese Tentons, who waddle about in linen sacks and carpet slippers. Here, ensconced beneath the shade on an aggravating hot day may be seen a dozen or more of these easy-going gentlemen smoking, and "repenting" the beverage. So calm, self-possessed and imperturbable, we don't think one of them would desert a mug half-emptied, should heaven and earth clap together suddenly – not unless the mugs were smashed. Hattorf's Limburger cheese is the renown of the resort – strong enough to attract a deal of custom from all sections of the city.
The City Spring Park is ???? on Eighth street extended It is now undergoing renovation, but the proprietor draws a [remainder of article is illegible]