Black Canyon Greyhound Park
Driving back on highway I-17 from Arcosanti we stumbled upon a huge abandoned site. It looked like the old Black Canyon Greyhound Park I heard blurbs about on other abandoned blogs, but there was no way of knowing without exploring the ruins it left behind. We pulled off at exit 242 so Kelly could grab a pack of smokes, but I felt an uncontrollable urge to explore the Park’s history and confirm its location, so we stopped to check it out. I tightened the straps to my backpack and just as I shut the rear passenger door the 5-0 pulled up at the stop sign. His piercing stare engaged me, our vehicle and then the park and my gut immediately turned sour. Kelly grabbed her phone and pretended to snap a selfie of us together with the mountains in the background. The police officer turned and parked his SUV onto the dirt shoulder trying to hide behind cacti and tumbleweeds. I noticed this and the close proximity of the park to the road and canned the idea immediately hoping to come back at some point in the near future.
Originally we planned to drive to Lake Havasu to explore the abandoned schoolhouses and watch a warm winter sunset from across the lake, but we slept in too late and changed our plans last minute. Instead we spent the past weekend wandering around the Black Canyon Greyhound Park exploring its abrupt demise. Right off I-17 by exit 242 the park sits decaying since the 1980’s when it abandoned its operations. The small, crooked, chain link fence dangles there a few feet off of the roadway welcoming any trespassers with a misdemeanor if caught.
We parked the car at Chileen’s Steak House and walked down the road scoping the area for policemen as we roamed in and out of the desert foliage. As we neared the exit I scanned the area for people and quickly made a run for it across the street as Kelly followed behind me. We hopped a small, crooked gate and hugged the foliage due to the park’s close proximity to the roadway. We zigzagged through the patchy grass, stepping on bald spots of dirt as I watched tumble weeds bounce by in the distance. One by one we entered the building through the side entrance, which reminded me of a run-down roof meant to cover gas pumps at a petrol station. Each pillar degraded severely over many years of decay with deteriorated concrete and exposed, rusted re-bar corroding from lack of maintenance and the wrath of mother nature. Graffiti artists tagged the inner walls of the building with bright colors making each tag stand out distinctly from the others as we scanned the walls. My nostrils flared from years of dust and decay, but the charred pieces of wood, scorched walls and caution tape all screamed signs of arson. Thick pieces of industrial glass crackled under my feet as they screeched against the concrete flooring. The building held spectators on the ground floor with plastic stadium-style seating separating each level with a concrete terrace design. I imagined all the seats lined up with spectators yelling, rooting for their greyhound to pull ahead as it neared the finish line galloping around the last bend. The gamblers all clasping their tickets, throwing their hands in the air as they spat out chants praying for victory. I opened my eyes and saw all the broken glass scattered throughout the park. The orange and yellow seats piled up in the far corner of the stadium, dull and faded from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. A set of wooden chairs off to the side all disintegrated from years of desert heat, termites and decay, all that remained, the curved, wooden backings. Everything stood there, old, dull and abandoned, as I circumnavigated the room, except for two huge, vibrant signs hanging from the rafters. The orange and yellow colors blasted the words “Red Seating, Yellow Seating, and Orange Reserve” signifying the different seating packages available in the Black Canyon Greyhound Park’s heyday.
We stepped through one of the panels of the shattered, floor-to-ceiling, windows facing the abandoned track and Arizona mountaintops. My eyes wandered to the metal roof access stairs. We lightly walked up them and reached the top peering across a dry-rotted timber bridge deck nailed diagonally across the roof. I noticed holes in the roof with crusty, yellow insulation as we walked on the rickety timber steps towards the box seats. We avoided the loose nails, and missing timber by tip-toeing across the support in the center. To avoid glimpsing down to the ground floor below I shifted my eyes to my feet as I slowly put one foot in front of the other as if walking a line. When we reached the end I noticed a black SUV parked off the side of I-17. A husky man exited his vehicle looking at the abandoned property 100 yards away from us. Kelly and I hid in an abandoned restroom above the box seats. A sink of shale filled to its brim where water once came out of its spicket hung from the wall. Tiled debris covered every inch of the floor and the toilet looked like someone took a sledgehammer to it.
We waited ten minutes. I poked out my head and noticed the vehicle scurried back onto the highway. Phew…our adrenaline passed. We walked the plank one last time to get back to the ground floor in order to continue wandering through the adjacent buildings on the property. Rental paperwork, and utility bills spread out across the floor of the next room as Kelly sifted through ransacked filing cabinets looking for clues of the Black Canyon Greyhound Park’s past. At one time, the owner’s rented the housing blocks to employees keeping the caged areas for the racing dog’s. A graffiti artist spray-painted a series of kitty cat faces throughout the property, nearly appearing in every room.