In the early nineteen hundreds the big industry in the Town of Pulaski was the manufacture of pigiron. In the mountains just south of town, iron ore was being removed from several strip mines, and hauled along a narrow gage railroad spur that ran from about the present location of the National Guard Armory, northward to Pearce Avenue, and parallel with the same to, and across Dora Highway; thence to the Pulaski Iron Company’s Furnace that was located in the present scrap metal yard on First Street, S.E.
At the southwest intersection of Pearce Avenue and Fifth Street, S.E.. was a sizeable piece of land extending southward about 800 feet, and westward to Floyd Avenue., with a small stream of water running through it. The area once contained a rather elaborate system for washing iron ore before the ore was moved on to the furnace near the center town. Town officials, and federal government officials chose the old ore washing area as the site for a new athletic field that would be constructed with funds furnished by a program of town in 1935, during the “great depression,” Pulaski’s Mayor Ernest W. Calfee and others known as the W.P.A.(Works Progress Administration).
First, a storm drain pipe line had to be built through the entire construction area, to carry the small stream that originated in the mountain to the south. Then with use of a minimum of heavy equipment, dirt was graded from hillsides east and west, to fill the mid area, bringing about the establishment of a flat area sufficiently large to lay out football and baseball facilities, and bleacher seats enough to seat several hundred people. The design of the park’s stone main entrance on Fifth Street, South was very elaborate, perhaps because the town was blessed with several skilled stone masons. At the time the Fifth Street stone entrance was built, a concrete square was put in, giving the name of the park as Pulaski Athletic Field – 1935. Parking lots were constructed at both the north and south ends of the field, and a fence was built around the entire athletic area.
The late Howard Jacksin, former head of the Pulaski water works, and Director of Public Works once told me that there was only one casualty during the construction of Calfee Park. During construction at the south end of the park, someone had tied his cow to graze too close to the job. A charge of dynamite went off, and hurled a large stone into the air, and sadly the stone hit the cow, and killed her. According to council minutes the town paid the owner for his cow.
I remember one time during an Appalachian League game, following a sudden downpour of rain, the storm drain running under the field ruptured, and water poured into center field. This was soon corrected, and league play continued.
After construction was completed, the park was given the name, Calfee Park, in honor of Mayor Ernest W. Calfee, who played such a large part in its construction.