Sunday, May 23, 2010

1930's - A Time of Transition

I have recently been working on a chapter in my history of La Farge project that tells the story of transition in the village during the 1930's. I used the great Kickapoo River flood of 1935 as a central event from which to spin off three themes which happened in the decade
The first of these themes was when the village and the rest of the Kickapoo Valley sought help from the federal government for their flooding problems. It was a time when a group of La Farge businessmen hopped in Harold Calloway's new Packard automobile and went to Washington D.C. to testify for a congressional hearing. Petitions were signed and gathered to be sent to Congress and the 1936 Water Bill contained money to begin a study of the Kickapoo Valley. A year later, the Army's Corps of Engineers were holding meetings in La Farge to learn more about the Kickapoo River flooding. By 1938, an intensive study on the Valley was underway to seek possible options to contain the floods. Flood control dams and levees were looked at for La Farge and other Kickapoo communities - help was on the way!
The second theme looked at the end of the Kickapoo Railroad. Abandonment of the line by the parent company was sought in 1937 and La Farge joined the other communities to fight to save their railroad. The fight lasted two years and the Valley lost. The last run of the Kickapoo Stumpdodger down the Valley was August 15, 1939. La Farge, which had been the northern terminal of the railway line, adjusted from the loss and sought better roads to facilitate their position as a trade center.
The third theme from the decade and one which actually endures to the present, was the construction of La Farge's new baseball field, Calhoon Park. It was begun as part of a WPA project in 1936. The village purchased a little over six acres to the west of the school for the new facility. Original plans called for a baseball field with grandstands and dugouts, a six-lane track and facilities for track & field meets, and a swimming pool. Eventually the baseball field was completed in time for the 1939 season with a covered grandstand, cement seating down both lines, and covered cement dugouts. There were spaces down both foul lines behind the cement seating for watching games while parked in your car. The new facility was named after Ray Calhoon, longtime player, manager and backer of baseball in La Farge.

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