The Rich History of Springville Ranch
S.A. Camp Harness Horse Farm By Millie Gann Springville holds its place in the nearly 200 years of harness racing history. The “Big White Barn”, built at a cost of $75,000 in 1945, marks the site of 200 acres of land purchased and established by S.A. and Nellie Camp as a breeding and training farm for their nationally famous string of harness horses. The “farm” and “barn” both are unique in the fact they were the first and earliest private acreage with a training track, devoted exclusively to harness horses, ever located in San Joaquin Valley, from Stockton to Los Angeles. Springville was home to many nationally known participants of the Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug: 1952 – Scotch Victor; 1955 – Butch Hanover; 1955 – Scott Frost (Triple Crown Winner); 1957 – Mudge Hanover; 1958 – Little Rocky (David Harding- Groom); 1958 – Shadow Wave (Dan Heatherington – Groom); 1960 – Blaze Hanover; 1962 – Safe Mission (Son of Scott Frost). Others included Red Streak, Prince Jay, Diamond Hal, Dazzleway and Sunbelle. In 1956, the second farm consisting of stables and a large training track was built in Shafter, California. The Springville farm was still used for breeding with approximately seventy brood mares. Top Sires included Triple Crow Winner Scott Frost, Shadow Wave, Diamond Hal, Dazzle Way, Red Streak and Butch and Bond Hanover. In 1960, fourteen train car loads of studs, mares and colts departed from Porterville-Santa Fe Rail Station, on their way to S.A. Camps Alma Hurst Farms in Lexington, Kentucky. The remainder stayed in Springville. In 1964, Canadian David Harding, who began his harness horse career with the Camps, returned to the Springville Ranch with his wife Betty (Gann) and sons John and Michael, as farm manager until 1969, then moving to the Shafter training farm. Few people today remember Scott Frost and the awe he inspired among horsemen. He was the first juvenile to race in 2:00 or faster, captured trottings Triple Crown in 1955, the year of its origin, and was named “Horse of the Year” in 1955-56 as he won forty-on out of forty-nine starts. Born in 1952, he died at age 31 after living out his final years in seclusion in a meadow in the Sierra National Mountains where he started his career. Today, Canadian born Joe O’Brien, who started his US training and driving career with S.A. Camp, together with Scott Frost, through memorabilia and history, hold their place of honor in the Memorial Hall of the Trotting Horse Museum in Goshen, New York. Joe’s outstanding record included winning more than 4,000 races. His most memorable feat was driving Steady Star to a world record of 1:52 in a time trial in 1971, and driving Scott Frost to victory in 1955, capturing the Triple Crown. This “bit” of Harness Horse history is dedicated to all those who trained here at the Springville Ranch.