MIAMI
05/20/2013 11:54 am ET Updated May 20, 2013

Ostrich Racing: One Of Florida's Oddest, Oldest Attractions (PHOTOS)

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Before there was Disney World, Universal Studios or Legoland, tourists were lured to Florida for one very odd attraction: ostrich racing.

The sport is one of Florida's oldest pastimes; ostrich farms and racetracks popped up in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, and St. Augustine around 1890.

Tourists could take a ride on the lanky birds for 50 cents, as long as they weighed less than 150 pounds, the maximum weight an ostrich can carry on its back.

A review of a Florida ostrich farm in a 1920 "Popular Science" advised: "When you mount the ostrich a sock is pulled over its head -- it feels safer in the dark. When the sock is pulled off, it leaps forward. You grab the feathers and hang on while the ostrich races around the track with you."

And that grip better be strong -- ostriches can reportedly reach speeds of 45mph. They are also reportedly very nasty and capable of fatally attacking a human with one kick.

Click below for images of ostrich racing in Florida, both bareback and with carts, courtesy of the Florida Memory Project:

PHOTO GALLERIES
Ostrich Racing In Florida

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