Join the Lakewood Historical Society as we celebrate 20 years of preserving, protecting and promoting local history. Fabulous food, distinguished speakers, book signings, raffle, giveaways—definitely a party you won’t want to miss! The fun starts at 5:00 pm, Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 in the Rotunda (Building 3) at Clover Park Technical College.
To get your tickets ($40 ea) call 253-682-3480, stop by the museum, 6211 Mt. Tacoma Dr SW, during regular hours: 12-4 pm, Wed-Sat, or print and mail the order form on our website, www.lakewoodhistorical.org
Don’t delay—last day to buy tickets is October 13, and they’re going fast.
Speaking of going fast…see that determined-looking gent with the cigar in our poster advertising the event? He’s the one and only Barney Oldfield, “The Mile-A-Minute Man!,” first person in history to attain the astounding speed of 60 miles an hour in an automobile: “Old 999,” a racing car built by none other than Henry Ford himself!
So what’s he got to do with local history—or our 20th anniversary? If you can’t see the connection—don’t worry, most won’t—that’s what we’re here for. The Lakewood Historical Society’s mission is to bring past and present together, reacquainting today’s public with people, places and events that, even if no longer with us, continue to shape our city.
Take Barney Oldfield, for instance. He’s the first link in a chain stretching from past to present that’s anchored to one very special site in Lakewood—a chain that connects our Gala to a long-gone race track.
Here’s how it works: Barney competed in a couple of races at the Tacoma Speedway (don’t let the name fool you; the two-mile wooden track was definitely in Lakewood). Nearly forgotten today, the Speedway was the second-most important track (after Indianapolis) on the auto-racing circuit, making it the biggest deal in sports around here until the 2015 US Open.
Next link in the chain: The Speedway property lays fallow for a few years after the track closes in 1922, but by the 30’s it’s home to Mueller-Harkins Airfield. Many a barnstormer (and future WWII fighter pilot) learns to take wing in its flight school, one of the region’s first.
Speaking of World War II, our chain next connects to the Naval Advance Base Depot. With efficiency born from wartime urgency, Mueller-Harkins is taken over by the government and, in a few months time, replaced by a sprawling complex of warehouses. Intended as a major supply point for troops fighting in the Pacific, the Base never operates at capacity thanks to a quicker end to the war than expected.
Next link: A suddenly surplus property on its hands, the government agrees to let a few buildings be used as a trade school. Teaching military aviators and mechanics how to adapt their skills to peacetime use, over time both curriculum and facilities expand into something the old race-track-air-field-supply-depot can truly be proud of—Clover Park Technical College, one of the most advanced and prestigious schools of its kind in the country.
Which brings us to the present and our 20th Anniversary Gala. Harkening back to CPTC campus’s early days as a race track, we’re holding our Gala in the Rotunda (Building 3), a part of the college’s automotive training complex which also happens to be right next to the marker we put up in 2002 commemorating the Tacoma Speedway!