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Kootenay poles for Yankee stadium?

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

At a presentation on the history of Slocan Valley sawmills in November 2016, a forester suggested the poles for the original light stands at Yankee stadium came out of the Lardeau. I had never heard this before, but discovered something else in Salmo Stories, p. 197. It’s a quote from a 2010 interview with Les Jensen, who was born in 1942:

When I was a kid, we took poles and fence posts down on sleds equipped with steel runners … We took out poles that were sent to Yankee Stadium to be used for the first lights they installed there. The buyer came here with a large special truck that could steer both the front and the rear wheels. They drove the truck right up in the bush and loaded our longest poles, some of which were 85 feet. They probably got five or six poles from us, then went to a Revelstoke operation to complete their load. Then they hauled those poles all the way across the United States to New York. I think they paid us $150 per pole, and that was a lot of money back then when a man earned less than $15 a day. We loaded the trucks with a ‘jammer,’ somewhat similar to what the coat loggers used for ‘high-lining’ their trees from the hillsides to the yard.

The first night game at Yankee Stadium was May 28, 1946. It was one of the last parks in the majors to install lights, but made up for that tardiness in brightness: the 1,245 floodlights installed by General Electric reportedly made the park shine twice as bright as any other. However, New York lost 2-1 to Washington.

Yankee Stadium 1923-2010 (Wikipedia photo)

Jensen implies but doesn’t explicitly state that the poles came from the Salmo Valley. He also indicates poles came from other places, so maybe some were from the Lardeau.

According to longtime Lardeau Valley resident Larry Greenlaw, “Kootenay Forest Products sent 24 poles, each 110 feet long, to Yankee Stadium in the late ‘50s. I worked on them — peeling, skidding, and loading them out at Lardo.”

But why on earth would the Yankees go so far afield (pardon the pun) for poles? Rob Zwick has a theory: when the sawmill at Slocan was owned by Triangle Pacific, it was controlled by a well-known New Yorker, Abraham Meltzer.

Kootenay poles were shipped far and wide, though, as demonstrated in this note from the Nelson Daily News of Aug. 24, 1915:

Telegraph poles are shipped from Slocan
Six carloads of telegraph poles were shipped from here for Chicago on Saturday.
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In the late 70's when I lived in Trout Lake I heard stories of poles from the Fish(Incompleux) river valley being shipped to New York.

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