Prior to its incorporation as a town, the site for the future Town of Pulaski, originally known as the "Mountain View Plantation", was owned by Robert Martin, Jr. Building upon land purchases by his father, Mr. Martin's land holdings continued to expand and include the present day McGill Village and Brown Addition in the east  and into the Jefferson National Forest in the west. The northern boundary was approximately a mile past the present corporate limits in the north while the southern limits of the estate reached to Draper's Mountain. 

In 1854, the catalyst for change in the agricultural use of the future town's land area began with the construction of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. Established as a railroad stop to take on water, the area took on the name of "Martin's Tank". 

Old PulaskiThe predominant land use in the area remained agricultural throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction. According to local historian George T. Swaim, the largest boost in the development of the early town occurred in 1877 with the discovery of the Altoona coal deposits and the formation of the Altoona Coal Company. The company began construction of a narrow gauge railroad, completed in 1879, between the main N&W tracks and the coal deposits. At this time, the future town consisted of three houses and two businesses. 

With industrial land uses spurred by the proximity of natural resources, commercial and residential development soon followed. At or near the same time that the Bertha-Altoona development was taking place, the Martin family began selling off portions of their property. For about $35,000, the Martin's conveyed several parcels to various development companies including: Swansee Land Co., Martin Land Co., Lake Spring Land Co., and the Pulaski Land & Improvement Co. The Pulaski Land and Improvement Co. in particular would be responsible for creation of large residential and commercial tracts in the present downtown area. 

By the late 1870's, the town began to experience the growth of industrial land uses. Plentiful coal and water resources, coupled with large zinc deposits in neighboring Wythe County, led to the formation of the Bertha Mineral Company and the construction of its furnace complex near the former site of Magnox/Nanochemonics. Beginning operations on February 19th, 1880, the company and its facilities expanded quickly to include purchase of the Altoona Coal Company. This area still forms the western boundary of the town's downtown heavy industrial district.  

Old Pulaski By 1884, Valley   Street formed   the first 'main'   street of   "Martin's Tank".   Residential and   commercial uses   were   concentrated   around this   street, with an   additional   residential area located to the north of the Bertha Mineral Co. in the vicinity of what are now Altoona Street, Magazine Street and Mt. Olivet Road. The Bertha Mineral Co.'s complex formed the industrial heart of the community at that time, with the remainder of land uses being primarily agriculture with the current downtown a low lying wetland. 

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