Local Initiatives

Old-Fashioned Pole Raising in Illinois

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: August 5th, 2014

Linemen from an Illinois electric cooperative marked the co-op’s 75th anniversary with a homage to the crews that first helped bring electric power to area farms.

A crew from EnerStar Electric Co-op maneuvers a pole into position at an American Legion ball field. (Photo By: Angela Griffin, EnerStar EC)

A crew from EnerStar Electric Co-op maneuvers a pole into position at an American Legion ball field. (Photo By: Angela Griffin, EnerStar EC)

“We raised a new pole at the ball field behind the Paris American Legion Hall and installed a new security light,” said Angela Griffin, manager of member services for EnerStar Electric Cooperative,  Paris, Ill. “But our crew did the work the same way the first crews at Edgar Electric Cooperative built our system in 1939.”

Long-handled spades and scoops, known as banjos and spoons, were the tools used by the six linemen who spent about an hour digging down nearly five feet to ready the site.

After maneuvering the pole into position, and tamping and setting the base, journeyman linemen Russ Camp and Jake Keys donned hooks and belts and headed up to make hardware connections and install the state-of-the-art LED security light system.

“Our crew members wore coveralls just like those Edgar Electric Cooperative crews would have worn in the co-op’s early days,” said Griffin. “They also wore helmets, goggles, gloves and other gear necessary to meet our co-op’s modern safety standards.”

Edgar Electric Cooperative Association was EnerStar EC’s name prior to 1998. The co-op serves about 5,300 members in five counties in east-central Illinois. So when co-op officials decided to make the old-fashioned pole raising part of its 75th anniversary celebration, they invited members and area news outlets to come out and watch.

Also on hand were members and co-op officials who remembered when co-op lines were being extended to farms still served by EnerStar.

“I grew up on a dairy farm that had electricity in the house, but not in the barn,” said EnerStar CEO Peter Kollinger, recalling early morning milking chores. “We used flashlights.”

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