National Historical Register Application - First Lighted Football Field
Through the year 1933 the Denmark High School football field ran diagonally from the back northeast comer of the school property to the southwest comer of the open ball field area. The games were played during daylight hours. The team dressing room was entered from the outside under the high school library in a basement area.
In the summer months of 1934 an innovative football coach, B. W. Rushton, who was affectionately called Colonel Rushton, wanted to light the ball field and play the games at night. Superintendent A. J. Richards supported Rushton's project. Local historians claim this was the first lighted football field in the state. At this time there is no written documentation to prove or disprove this claim.
Aluminum dishpans here purchased from Brooker's Hardware and used as the reflectors. White porcelain light sockets were placed through the bottom of the pan and wired in sequence from pole to pole. The South Carolina Power Company under the direction of W. M. Ashcraft agreed to assist with the project. Local cypress trees were cut, dressed and used as the poles.
There were five poles on each side of the field equally spaced and approximately 30 to 40 feet tall. Each pole supported two light fixtures angled in different directions. The position of the field was changed to run east, to west parallel to the north side of Bethel Park Methodist Church. There were not the regulations by the high school league that exist today and early summer practices were held at night. Coach Rushton experimented with painting the footballs different colors such as aluminum and white to determine which could best be seen at night. The field and night football proved popular and very soon afterwards other schools followed with various versions of lighted fields. Denmark High School used the lights for a number of years.