In Pioneer Footsteps

Unearthing a Historic Power Line

By Alan Drew

Photos Courtesy of Northwest Lineman College.

We were spread out, walking through heavy brush along the route of a long-defunct power line between the old Swan Falls Dam and Silver City, when someone shouted, “Here’s a pole and cross-arm!”

I rushed over to where he was and sure enough, he had come upon a pole top with the cross-arm mounted on it. This great discovery, which confirmed much about the design of a power line more than a century old, was one of many our team at Boise’s Northwest Lineman College has made over twenty-nine expeditions, during which we have covered the entire twenty-seven miles of line from Swan Falls to Silver City.

It all began in 1998, when I started a second career in Boise working at the college after retiring from a management position with a public utility district in Washington. I’ve been interested in the power industry ever since I was a youngster growing up in Santa Cruz, and my career in the industry is now approaching sixty years in length. Even now, it amazes me how much the world depends on electricity, and that the lifestyle we enjoy today wouldn’t be what it is if not for the efforts of pioneers.

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Alan Drew

About Alan Drew

Alan Drew is senior vice president of research and development at Northwest Lineman College in Meridian. Starting his career in the power industry in 1959, he advanced through apprentice lineman, lineman, line foreman, and line superintendent while earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After working as general superintendent for a Washington public utility, he moved to Boise in 1998 and joined the lineman college. In 2009, Alan was inducted into the International Lineman’s Hall of Fame. He and wife Kathi reside in Eagle.