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

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

ALBERNI GOLF: Van Lent gets hole in one

Next Sunday, Oct. 4 will be the windup for Sunday morning golf for this crazy year of 2020

EDITORIAL: Election forces change, uncertainty for Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding

The Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding is heading into a snap election at a time when we least need it.

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs prepare for unusual 2020-21 season

Questions remain about funding, fans in seats at the Alberni Valley Multiplex

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Most Read