Riverside Park, Dawson Springs
|The Great Wooden Ballpark|
|Former names||Tradewater Park|
|Location||901 W. Arcadia Ave
Dawson Springs, KY. 42408
|Owner||City of Dawson Springs|
|Operator||City of Dawson Springs|
|Field size||Left Field - 335 ft.
Center Left- 365ft.
Center Field - 405 ft.
Center Right - 365 ft.
Right Field - 335ft.
|Closed||Circa 1935 - 1999|
|Demolished||Circa 1935 Flood|
|Main contractors||Dawson Springs Community|
|Tradewater Pirates (KIT) (1999–2011)
MLB Spring Training:
Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) (1915–1917)
Boston Red Sox (AL) (?-early 1920s)
Cincinnati Reds (NL) (?-early 1920s)
Dawson Springs' Riverside Park, sometimes called Tradewater Park, was originally built in 1914 to serve as a spring training park for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1914 to 1917. This is the only known baseball park in Kentucky to have hosted a major league team since the Louisville Colonels folded in 1899. While the original stadium was destroyed in a 1930's flood, it was later rebuilt in 1999. The park was reconstructed out of wood, just like the original stadium. It is the only ballpark of its kind in Western Kentucky. Riverside Park is now home to the Tradewater Pirates. Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, who trained on this field for 3 years, organized a team of local young boys known as "Honus Wagners' Young Recruits." Babe Ruth, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Casey Stengel, and Ty Cobb also played baseball in Dawson Springs.
Dawson Springs is home to a mineral spring that was believed by many to have medical healing qualities. This led to Dawson Springs becoming a huge resort town. Thousands of people came to drink and bathe in the spring. Forty hotels sprung up to accommodate the health seekers. The large crowds that came to Dawson Springs was one of the reasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates to make it their spring training home.
Riverside Park was built in 1914 and served as the Spring Training Home of the Pirates from 1914 until 1917, when moved on to Hot Springs, Arkansas. The entire ballpark was made entirely from wood. From the grandstand to the dugout, everything in the park was wooden. Local citizens then constructed a large indoor pavilion for spring training and exhibition games and an additional wing was built on the New Century Hotel to accommodate the players. Some records from the era show that the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds also played expedition games there until the early 1920s. Teams came from all around to test the Pirates. They consisted of other major league squads, American Association teams, colleges, semi-pro teams, and yes, even teams formed by local mining companies and businesses. Some teams all of the way from St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia, as well as minor league squads from Columbus, Ohio and Toledo, Ohio to play at Riverside Park. However once professional baseball left Dawson Springs; Riverside Park, while still hosting many local teams, among them members of the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League (the Kitty League), continued to provide baseball for western Kentucky.
Sometime in the 1930s a devastating storm flooded a river, that runs alongside the field's first base line, and washed away the entire stadium in a violent flood. In the decades following the flood, residents in Dawson Springs were only left with the memories of ballpark.
Rebuilding the park
In 1999 Tradewater Park was rebuilt, as Riverside Park, using the exact blueprints from 1914. Dawson Springs Mayor Stacia Peyton funded a public project to rebuild the park. Public opinion reflected on the need for the city to fund other civic needs instead of rebuilding an old ballpark. However Peyton pressed ahead with plan, knowing how important the ballpark was to the history of the city. The goal of the project was to make the stadium as authentic as possible to the original. Still many locals believed the venture to be a well-intended, but ill-fated. The largest stumbling for the engineers reconstructing the park was using only wood. The seats, roof, and beams are all made from wood, just like in 1914, to create a one-of-a kind ballpark. It is the only completely wooden ballpark in the region.
The Tradewater Pirates
The stadium was used until 2012 by the Tradewater Pirates of the KIT League and then the Ohio Valley League. The team was founded in 1999 and joined the KIT League in 2007. The Pirates first game at Riverside came on July 4, 1999. In 2008, the team celebrated its 10th Anniversary. They are currently one of the most respected summer collegiate baseball programs in the nation.
Riverside Park also features the "Hardball Cafe", featuring a menu of ballpark foods, flame-grilled meats, and a taco salad. The Park is open daily beginning at 9:00 a.m. and closing at sunset, whenever no events are scheduled.
Honus Wagner and his buddies often went fishing at the "Old Mill Dam", located right beside Riverside Park and a short walking distance from the New Century Hotel.