Curious Cbus: The History Of Horseback Riding In Franklin Park

Apr 26, 2019

Central Ohio is filled with parks where it’s common to see joggers and bicyclists making use of trails. Decades ago, it would have been just as likely to see horseback riders trotting on those very same paths.

That led WOSU listener Patricia Bonhom to ask Curious Cbus about man named Frank Tallmadge and a riding club that once existed in Franklin Park.

Born in Lancaster, Ohio in 1854, Frank Tallmadge grew up to become successful in the insurance business and a prominent member of Columbus society. He was a well-respected civic leader whose birthday parties were written about in the newspaper. 

Tallmadge was also an avid equestrian who worked diligently to keep the appreciation of horses and horseback riding alive as automobiles became more and more common.

In 1925, Tallmadge published his book Horseback Riding In And Around Columbus, 1774 - 1924. In it, he writes about the history of horseback riding from the days of the area’s earliest pioneers to his present day.

In one chapter, he documents the story of a group of like-minded riders who met in Franklin Park in 1903. Some wondered why there wasn’t a riding club in the area. After some deliberation and a collection of signatures, the group of charter members including Frank Tallmadge started the Columbus Riding Club. In 1905, he was elected president of the organization. 

Over the next several years, the club held horseback riding events and competitions in and around Franklin Park, and at country clubs around Columbus. Tallmadge himself was noted as the winner of several events.

Obituary of Frank Tallmadge in the Columbus Evening Dispatch published May 19, 1937.
Credit Columbus Dispatch / Columbus Metropolitan Library

Tallmadge remained a horseback riding advocate until his death at the age of 83 in May 1937. His obituary in the Columbus Dispatch called him a “famous horseman and an authority on equestrianship” who was “familiar to nearly all Columbus residents.”

While I was researching Frank Tallmadge, Curious Cbus got another question about the Columbus Riding Club. Rafael Lisboa, manager of the Wyandotte Athletic Club, wanted to know more about the history the club's building.

It turns out that although the Columbus Riding Club no longer exists, its "hoof print" can still be seen here in Columbus.

A photo from the Columbus Dispatch shows Frank Tallmadge laying the cornerstone for the Columbus Riding Club Hall in 1933 (Left). That building stands today and is home to the Wyandotte Athletic Club (Right).
Credit Columbus Dispatch/Rafael Lisboa

In 1933, The Columbus Evening Dispatch reported on the groundbreaking of a new hall for the Columbus Riding Club. The new structure would allow equestrians to ride all year long, day or night, which was a big deal at the time. The paper said the hall represented the fulfillment of a long-held dream for Frank Tallmadge.

On that day, Tallmadge laid the cornerstone of the building which still stands today on Riding Club Lane where it is home to the Wyandotte Athletic Club.

Got a question about the history of Columbus? Submit your question to our Curious Cbus project below, and WOSU may investigate for a future story.