Coy Burnett Field
A Page of History
As usual I searched my mother Marion Deaver's files and found an article about the creation and dedication of Coy Burnett Athletic Field in Tehachapi. As usual, my mom did not have a date on the article.
I checked with Mayor Ed Grimes, the "voice of the Warriors" and he said that field was constructed in the late '50s. Anyone with a more accurate date can contact me and I will mention the date in a future column.
The field was dedicated on a Saturday when Tehachapi played Trona, for the Warriors' Homecoming.
Coy Burnett was the President of Monolith Portland Cement Company, and as such served longer than any cement company president in the United States. Under Burnett's direction the field was constructed with Monolith's equipment, fuel, and manpower to move the dirt and create the large "bowl" that would become the field.
John Clodfelter and L.Y. Tiberghein operated the equipment to move the massive amounts of dirt. The company also donated a large quantity of cement, which was used to construct the curbs and eventually the cement bleachers.
The contributions to the school and city by Monolith, through the leadership of Burnett, were "legendary" according to the article. In the 38 years before the article was written Monolith had donated land for the future construction of the Catholic Church, the Church of Christ, and the Baptist Church.
Burnett also oversaw the hiring of students during vacations and weekend periods, thus enabling the students to save money for higher education.
After the earthquake of 1952 hit the city, equipment from Monolith was rushed to assist in clearing the damaged areas and to aid in rescue operations of trapped residents.
Burnett authorized Monolith's engineers to visit the homes of employees to inspect for earthquake damage, and then sent others to authorize loans to individual employees to make repairs if needed.
For five years the Monolith president sent all children of employees to Catalina for a week's vacation, all expenses paid.
Burnett began his career as a trial lawyer in Portland, Ore. He became interested in the cement industry. In 1920 he and some associates purchased the cement company in Tehachapi after the City of Los Angeles listed it for sale.
At that time the company was producing the same amount of cement per year that it did per month by the time the article was written. Later Burnett bought out his associates and became the majority stock owner.
J.W. Jameson owned that limestone deposit at that time and worked with Burnett in the building and growth of the cement plant. The Monolith Cement Company began operations as such in 1919, when the population of Tehachapi was 458. It had grown to 3,033 residents when the article was written, and attributed much of that growth to the company.
Burnett's long term service as president of the company was said to "greatly assist in the growth and betterment" of Tehachapi.
The naming of the field after him would be a "lasting tribute" to the man who had done "such a great deal for the schools as well as the town and its individuals."
His supporters stated that it was "indeed fitting" that something as permanent as an athletic field where the youth could learn the value of sportsmanship for the future be named after Burnett.
That field remains in use today as the Home of the Warriors. Proponents of constructing a new football field adjacent to the current high school have announced that they would begin fundraisers for its creation.
The school only has a practice field at its site today. Funds for a permanent field were postponed at the time of construction to meet the budget for the new high school.
Until a new stadium is built, the Friday Night Lights can be seen from all over town and Tehachapi's parents, other residents and students still gather for the love of the game at Coy Burnett Field.