The Bonneville-Hood Transmission Line was the pinnacle of electrifying America. It was originally built from 1939-1941, at the tail end of the Great Depression. During this time Franklin D. Roosevelt was creating a multitude of projects across the United States and this transmission line was one of them. The work of the forefathers in the IBEW demonstrated how successful IBEW labor in this country could be. Bonneville Power showed transmissions lines could be built anywhere they needed to be. There were no barriers to service towns and communities across America. Today, that standard lives on through the IBEW.
The current rebuild on the Bonneville-Hood Transmission Line is a 22.5 section of line. It starts from the Bonneville Dam Powerhouse, and runs all the way to Hood River. The line runs along the Pacific Crest Trail, which is both beautiful, yet rugged terrain.
Working on this line rebuild is a challenge that attracts a certain kind of lineman. There’s a lot of history behind this job, but there are also facets that make it interesting. The only way to get to the structure is by helicopter or an hour-long hike. Even to get equipment like excavators, they must be flown in by helicopter. For that reason, these linemen are some of the best in their trade in the world.
The IBEW chose to work with Wilson Construction on this project for many reasons, but one in particular is that they have their own helicopter fleet. The pilots have built strong and trusted relationships with the crewmembers on the job. Wilson Construction draws out of the local union when they come into an area, which has been great for IBEW Local 125. Both the IBEW and Wilson Construction have a great reputation for being specialists in dealing with abnormal situations, like the rugged terrain. Plus, they both have an excellent safety record in those circumstances.
The Bonneville-Hood Transmission is a dream job. Linemen are up in the mountains, surrounded by waterfalls, doing what they love everyday. Thanks to IBEW Local 125, 1245, and 291 and Wilson Construction, another job done will be successfully and safely finished.