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

Alberni Valley Kennel Club brings back Canine Classic dog show

55th annual Dog Show weekend takes place Oct. 18-20

Take a chance on the Portal Players in Mamma Mia!

Hit musical headed to Port Alberni on Oct. 17

Culturally safe space opens at West Coast General Hospital

New amenity welcomes Indigenous cultural approach to healing

Well-known Port Alberni politician, philanthropist Gillian Trumper has died

Community remembers Trumper as generous to her community, and a groundbreaking politician

Port Alberni cancer patients get new ride to appointments

Qualicum Beach woman donates van to Freemasons’ transportation program

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Most Read