Black Canyon City Dog Track: A Study in Urban Decay

Categories: Hidden Valley
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Photos by E. Groves
The Black Canyon City Dog Track, from the outside.
The Black Canyon City Dog Track, about 40 miles north of Phoenix, is both a mecca for squatters and urban explorers and a fascinating study in decay. This massive property has been falling into rapid disrepair since the late 1980s, and remains one of the most accessible abandoned sites in the Valley.

Up until recently, the property was highly visible from the I-17 freeway, just past Anthem. That's because the building had the words "DOG TRACK" painted in big, block orange letters on the south side of the building. The "T" fell off at some point, so it read "DOG RACK" until somebody painted a black "C" on the building and it read "DOG CRACK." Now, the entire thing's been painted over. The dog track's still visible from the corner of Coldwater Canyon and Maggie Mine Roads, where people sometimes park and walk onto the property to explore.

There are no "Private Property" or "No Trespassing" signs posted, and any security measures previously taken are destroyed or missing. The barbed wire fence around the perimeter has been torn down in large sections, chain-link gates are wide open, and large boards over the main entrance have been kicked in or pried off. Walls of glass, which used to surround the entire stadium seating section, are now piles of shards scattered throughout the property.

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One of many graffiti messages inside the dog track building.
Outside, piles of trash and building refuse bake in the sun next to random, blistered pleather chairs. A vulture circles over a section of the old race track, now covered in soft desert dirt and weeds. And large bushes have sprouted through cracks in the concrete. 

The smell of mold hangs heavy in the air around the building, but even more so inside the building, which is incredibly trashed from years of weather damage and vandalism.

And to think, the Black Canyon City Dog Track was once one family's big dream. 

Though much of this place's early history is shrouded in mystery, we do know that the track was opened in 1967 by the Funk family, who operated it with a Delaware company called Western Racing, Inc. until closing down in 1982. The property was used for swap meets throughout the 1980s, but was abandoned by the end of the decade. In 2008, some developers were reportedly interested in putting an RV park there, but that never materialized.



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A view of the stadium seats, from the outside looking in.

What has materialized inside the building is about three inches of pigeon crap, which crunches underfoot along with myriad broken tiles, glass, mold, and unrecognizable charred things. 

About 50 of the stadium chairs have been busted, removed, and heaped into a pile of scattered plastic in what was once the lobby. The building creeks and moans in the wind, joined by the sounds of pigeons nesting and pecking about.

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The track where the dogs used to race, as it looks today.

The interior is covered in crappy graffiti, including a few spray-painted penises, the word "Money" in bubble letters, the phrase "D.I.Y. or Die," and a couple swastikas. The building's been almost completely stripped of all electrical wiring, especially anything copper. 

There are gaping holes in every interior wall. There's also evidence that people and dogs have recently been here, including an intact, Styrofoam Circle K Thirstbuster cup and empty bags of dog food not yet rendered unrecognizable by the elements.

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A pile of busted stadium chairs inside the building.

But what struck us the most was that -- despite the dangers (like stepping on rusty nails or broken glass, having some part of the creaking building fall, and possibly encountering a territorial squatter or zombie) -- nobody seemed to notice or care that we were in there. And after walking around for almost 40 minutes, it was evident that nobody has cared about this building for a very, very long time.

The Black Canyon City Dog Track is located off the I-17, just outside Maricopa County. Click here for GPS directions
.

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A partial dog food bag wrapper inside the stadium.





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