Crews have spent several weeks carefully dismantling the remaining 450-foot section of the dry shed at Somass Mill

End of an era as Somass dry shed comes down

A historical landmark in Port Alberni will be demolished in the next couple of months.

A historical landmark in Port Alberni will be demolished in the next couple of months. Crews from H.L. Demolition have been painstakingly dismantling the historic dry shed at Somass Mill, which was once a focal point for lumber operations in the Alberni Valley.

The shed, originally 75 feet wide and 700-feet long, was built in 1941 over two rows of train tracks to allow dry loading of lumber directly into boxcars, according to local historian Frank Holm.

Somass Mill was built in 1934 by Bloedel, Stewart and Welch.

By 1957, the warehouse and craneway were extended to 1,200 feet long. There was a canopy on one side that extended over the railroad tracks, allowing loading of boxcars under cover so the lumber didn’t get wet.

“My dad worked as a boxcar loader,” said Jan Jansma, who worked at Somass for nearly 43 years.

“It was the longest free-standing building in the Commonwealth.They could load six or eight boxcars at a time,” he said.

“When they were loading that finished stuff they had to wear special [calf hide-soled] slippers so they didn’t mark the lumber,” he recalled.

The original part of the shed was demolished in 1989 as Somass Mill underwent a redesign and upgrade to an HVAC mill.

Rail shipments of lumber and paper products ceased in the Alberni Valley in 1999, Holm said, when Canadian Pacific Railway sold the trackage. Rail America quit operating the Alberni line for good in December 2001.

The dry shed has been used for storage in the past, but not for a couple of decades, said Makenzie Laine, spokesperson for Western Forest Products, which owns Somass Mill.

Because of the building’s age, a firm specializing in asbestos removal has been hired.

“We are taking every measure to ensure we exceed the regulated safety requirements of WorkSafe BC,” Laine said. Demolition will take another month or less.

The contractor is donating the rail line and railway ties that have been salvaged from the shed to the Industrial Heritage Society.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

 

 

Just Posted

Rollin Art Centre open now

Make sure to renew your Community Arts Council membership

BCHL: Bulldogs take the ice after trade deadline

Alberni team picked up one loss, one win with new roster

Alberni’s Warren Lee earns second black belt

Lee is one of four Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belts in Canada

Maa-nulth Nations sign historic agreement with B.C.

Deal puts nations on level playing field with province in post-treaty talks

City of Port Alberni rehires Ken Watson

Former city manager back for short term

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page, to be inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame

Canadian band to get top honours at 2018 JUNO Awards

B.C. out of the running for Amazon’s next headquarters

Toronto is the only Canadian city left in the running despite the province backing Metro Vancouver’s bid for new Amazon headquarters

B.C. hockey player nominated for Hobey Baker Award

Myles Powell is a forward at Rochester Institute of Technology

Post interest rate hike debt tips

What to do about your debt and mortgages after the interest rate hike

Foreign workers sleeping in Alberta Burger King basement

Alberta Health Services said its inspectors found foreign workers sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant

Court application halts release of bread price-fixing documents

Bread price-fixing documents won’t be unsealed Thursday, Loblaw says

Pharrell and N.E.R.D to headline NBA All-Star halftime show

11-time Grammy winner Pharrell and his hip hop-rock band N.E.R.D. will headline the halftime show at the 2018 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles

Heritage Minister wants zero tolerance for harassment in entertainment industry

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly had two meetings to discuss harassment in the film, TV and theatre worlds

Most Read