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

Team Harrison prevails in Port Alberni men’s bonspiel

Annual bonspiel drew 20 teams from out of town

Wedding plans derailed following City of Port Alberni’s train announcement

Five wedding parties are scrambling to find alternate transportation arrangements to McLean… Continue reading

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

Credit card fraud steals $50,000 from Victoria businesses: police

Crime Reduction Unit investigating several frauds costing several businesses over $50,000

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read