Whose Poles Are Those?
The Bayfield Electric Cooperative magazine has an article about power coming into Clam Lake thanks to Lynne’s question about utility poles seen in photos from the 1930s:
Request leads to search of Clam Lake’s history
I recently received a call from Lynne Rice, a life-long Clam Lake resident and a local historian. Lynne had some old photos of Clam Lake from the 1930s that had some type of utility poles in the background that she wanted me to identify. Knowing Bayfield Electric Cooperative didn’t energize its first line until January of 1945, and Clam Lake didn’t receive phone service until the mid-1950s, I assumed it had to be telegraph lines serving the forest service guard station and fire tower.
Talking to Lynne and looking at the photos made me curious as to when Clam Lake received electricity. This is what I found out: In May of 1946 M. Gaare staked the line to serve Clam Lake. It was 15 miles of single-phase overheard with 270 poles and #6 amerductor conductor. It was inspected by J. Ertz and energized in October of 1948. In 1965 cross arms and two more conductors were added and the line was converted to a three-phase. The overhead line served the people of Clam Lake for nearly 70 years until 2015, when BEC converted to three-phase underground.
Bill Johnson, Bayfield Electric operations manager
The telegraph poles pictured are the only visible thing left from the rail that went through Clam. From my understanding, talking with Bill, getting the power over here from Atkins Lake was a major undertaking that took two years. Up until that point people in Clam had 32 volt light plants – this told to me by Jerry Renzelman who moved here in 1943.
Bill Johnson, BEC’s operations manager, poured through old co-op staking sheets to find out when Clam Lake was first energized.