The First CMDTRA Ride - 1941

In 1941, Ray Walsh and George Smith took part in a competitive trail ride which was held in the Sierra Nevada. It was their first experience with trail riding as a competitive sport, and they were enthusiastic about it. When they learned that no other competitions were planned, they were very disappointed.

On the way home to Concord, Ray and George discussed their unique experience; the excitement of competition, the challenges met and mastered by themselves and their horses, the camaraderie with the other riders, the closeness to nature, and the camping out. It soon dawned on them that Concord was ideally situated for a similar competition. They could ride from Concord to Mt. Diablo State Park!

Concord was still a relatively small, rural community in 1941. Many of the residents kept horses in their back yards, and Ray and George had many friends who were also horsemen. In fact, several members of the Concord Chamber of Commerce were riders.

Ray and George introduced the idea of a competitive trail ride from Concord to Mt. Diablo State Park and it was enthusiastically accepted as an asset for the community. The Chamber of Commerce became the sponsor of the event, and gave valuable financial aid and impressive trophies.

The committee, headed by Ray Walsh and George Smith, planned the itinerary and obtained the necessary permits to use the routes. Another group planned the meals and transported the food and supplies to Barbecue Terrace. Other workers packed the riders' and horses' gear to the camp area, and still others supplied horse trailers in case of need.

Finally, in mid October, 1941, the first Concord to Mt Diablo Trail Ride began. Eighteen riders had entered the competition. To the strains of band music and cheering well-wishers, they mounted their horses in front of the old Pacheco Adobe on Grant Street, and rode off on the previously marked route.

They rode along Clayton Road between well spaced houses, but soon there were stretches of vineyards, and then the orchards started: walnuts, pear and almonds. After they reached the town of Clayton, they were directed to Black Diamond Road and went on to Nortonville and Somerville, the old coal mining towns. From there, they went across cattle ranches in Oil Canyon and come out at Marsh Creek Springs. This was the lunch stop.

Somewhat refreshed, they remounted and rode over the Prison Farm property to Sycamore Springs and on up to Barbecue Terraces. It was a rugged test of endurance on both riders and horses! After a sumptuous barbecue, there were songs and stories around the fire and then they all rolled up in their sleeping bags.

The camp was astir at daybreak and the trail riders retraced their steps ending at the Old Pacheco Adobe where further judging was undertaken by Kent Weaver, William E. Bone, and Maurice L. Boevers, DVM. Of the eighteen entries, fourteen completed the ride. That evening a banquet was held at Joe and Isabelle De Rosa's Hotel honoring the contestant. The main speaker was Lloyd Martinelli, who traced the horses' service to mankind throughout history.

The next day the awards were presented at the Concord Recreation Center. The riders had been divided into three divisions: Heavyweight, Lightweight, and Juniors, and awards were given in each division. Margie Clement of Clayton won the Lightweight Division, and the Sweepstakes Tropies on "Pat"; Heavyweight Division was won by William Biglow and "Red Wings" of Concord; and David Newfeld and "Sunset" won the Junior Division. The trophies varied from substantial checks, silver buckles, spurs, and leather goods, to subscriptions to Western Horseman donatedby Paul Albert, editor and publisher.

After the awards were presented, three Quarter Horse races were held, as well as Musical Chairs and an Old Clothes Race. Chief Pilot John Allan of Sherman Field put on an air show. The inaugural Competitive Trail Ride was such a success that the Concord Chamber of Commerce decided to make it an annual affair.

In 1942, the Trail Ride was held in late September using the same route, but the entries had increased to thirty riders, from the eighteen of the year before

The Story of this Story

CMDTRA (Concord Mt Diablo Trail Riding Association) sponsors a beautiful ride on the east side of Mt. Diablo every year. Last year was CMDTRA's 50th anniversary and, in honor of the anniversary, the president of the club, Brian Pepper, published a series articles about the club's history in their newsletter. The story on this page is the first installment from that series - and maybe the first installment in Bay Area competitive trail riding! Thanks to Ellen Pouffer for providing this to us.

And I may have this wrong, but I think Barbecue Terrace is where we had our dinner and awards for this year's (2011) CMDTRA NATRC ride!