Dig will probe horse farm’s earlier history

By Kevin Walters
The Tennessean

Before a new, four-mile walking trail and canoe access can be added to the city’s Park at Harlinsdale Farm, archaeologists must first pore over the park’s grounds for historic ties to its past.

Though the former horse farm turned city park is considered a landmark in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, its history goes back farther.

Franklin aldermen agreed this week to spend little more than $13,000 to hire archaeologists to dig through the trail’s proposed route on a five-day search for historic artifacts before work crews begin excavation. The city must undertake the work in order to comply with federal guidelines associated with a grant for the trail work.

Civil War troops passed through the Franklin Road property during and after the Battle of Franklin in 1864. State archaeologists had also previously excavated an early 20th century home on the property and two prehistoric sites including remains of a prehistoric burial site years ago, records show.

City officials are hoping to avoid any surprise discoveries that might slow work and compromise the historical artifacts found.

“We want to make sure that we protect what needs to be protected,” said Lisa Clayton, city parks director.

Earlier this year, crews discovered a cannonball and other historic items while adding the new access road into the city’s Eastern Flank Civil War park off Lewisburg Pike.

The eventual addition of the 4-mile walking trail – among other upgrades – again renews city attention on one of the city’s most visible parks but one that’s needed years of renovation work and still more upgrades.

Franklin leaders are also discussing a $150,000 project to remove the pea gravel coating on the park’s main entrance and replace it with a fresh topping known as a “West Tennessee Mix” of river rock and asphalt.

The new topping will give local historic preservationists the look of the road in its heyday in the 1930s, but without the potholes.

“It looks kind of like a dirt road from afar but it also provide the durability we need on site,” Clayton said.

Aldermen also approved a final $37,734.88 change order to pay for stabilizing and better weather-proofing the main barn at the site.

Franklin’s contractors have worked for months on a more than $640,000 project to replace and renovate a deteriorating barn that had years of heavy termite and weather damage.