Many thanks for your extensive summary.
However. . . there are holes that a Concord could fly through (if they were still flying).
Oky Doky. This is the concensus of the Sunday BarnParty. The photo is not of Northville Downs. Northville Downs never had the judges quarters on the roof top as pictured. Also, when Northville Downs opened they used a mobile starting gate. This was estimated to be somewhere between 1949 and 1951.
Northville Downs opened in 1944 (at least as shown in the photo I provided) , it's a matter of record.
Previous to that there was a one-mile track at Northville.
The following excerpt from the Dec 12, 1945 Harness Horse:
The first night's meeting was held in 1944, when the paltry sum of $9,000 was the total sum. passing through the Pari Mutuel machines. In comparison with that !lowly beginning the meeting has grown in volume until every week the last three of the recent fall meeting, exceeded $100,000 per night. There are a number of reasons for this remarkable increase, one being the system of starting. Race Secretary Keller inaugurated a plan of having his Starting Judge, Harvey Hartman of Quakertown, Pa., come to the track fen days before the opening for the purpose of schooling the horses that were on hand to race. This plan has -proved effective in producing satisfactory starts which in turn has pleased the patrons of the meeting.
The statistics of the meeting following, give a detailed story of the progress of the 1945 fall meeting.
104 pacers won races at the fall meeting.
55 trotters won races at the fall meeting.
159 horses won races during the thirty-five days of the meeting-believed to stand as a record number of race winners at a meeting of the duration of the Northville Downs meeting.
However, and interestingly, the gate that is shown in the photo (couldn't identify the track) was called the Smith Gate. It was the width of a track and was rigged on a "track system" that ran the length of the stretch. It would move forward at an increasing speed until the start. When it swung open, the outside horses had the advantage as it opened outside first ... opening finally toward the rail until stopping after an official start point.
The Smith Gate didn't look like the photo I provided, rather that is a "barrier gate".
The Smith Gate was used at Maywood for a while, I've a photo of that.
Smith gate sat much lower (referring to the portion which was overhung on the track).
Also used for a time at Good Time Park, Buffalo Raceway and even Hollywood Park and more.
A Good website for mobile gates with more than 250 photo's is Mike's mobilestartinggates
Coincidentally, "The Hill" was a term used to refer to some backside Northville stabling up until 1976 or 1977. While there was stabling nearer to the race track itself (as Wilderness stated) .... "The Hill" had very skimpy accommodations for stablers (mostly for those that didn't race there) and was off the official grounds just southwest and across two main streets. Apparently, while there was electricty and water, there was little winter shelter. Folks stabled there had to box in their own stalls with scrap wood, plastic, whatever. There was a jogging track also that was maintained once a week. The best part (as it was told to me) was a full breakfast for .99 cents at a small kitchen. Coffee was .10 cents. Beer was always in the fridge and you had to put $1 in the coffee can for each beer taken from the fridge.
There may have in fact been a portion of the barn area referred to as "the hill", however so was public portion of the track in which the building in the photo I provided.
I know nothing of the prices on the backstretch and frankly I've never inquired, however I'm sure I could find out if necessary.
The stable area across Seven Mile, existed into the 80's at least. There was (perhaps still is) a guard shack at the traffic light, which was there to hold traffic, while the horses crossed the road an accessed the ramp onto the track. My friends mare as a 4YO reared and fell off the ramp in late 1982.
BTW, the "two main streets' are Seven Mile Road and Sheldon Road.
How's that for Harness folk-lore? The photo, the hill, the gate ... all twisted together but harness history all the same.