The year was 1965 and, as you can see in the photo below, the land was cleared and construction had began. What you can also see is how barren the land around Pocono was at the time—only a few houses for the brave souls willing to venture beyond nearby Wilkes-Barre. We laugh today, but downtown was the shopping and entertainment hub for the entire area. Suburbanites needed to travel there for nearly everything, and that wasn't easy in the days before the Cross Valley Expressway. Pocono Downs was going to be a destination, and arguably the first major attraction in the entire area.
By April 1965, significant progress had been made and the track was just a few months shy of opening. Check out the progress report to Pocono Downs shareholders up top. The track's then-president, James Durkin, seems highly optimistic that northeastern Pennsylvania would support a racetrack, and he was right. Over 12,000 fans would show up for opening night on July 15, a fantastic start for a racetrack that has thrived for an astonishing 50 years.