This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The pole arrives

Last week I had some pictures of workers drilling a hole for a large electrical pole. This morning the pole arrived and was set into place. It came on a very long truck, and was lifted from the truck by a large crane.
The pole was made of laminated wood and was much wider at the bottom than at the top. It creaked and groaned as it bent during lifting. After the pole was off the truck, the truck shortened itself--the trailer could telescope in and out to change length. In the picture below, you can see red and black markings on the side of the trailer. When the retraction was done, everything in front of those markings had been pulled into the back of the trailer.
It took a few attempts to get the belts on the top of the pole, and then the crane lifted the whole pole up and workers maneuvered the bottom of the pole into the hole that was prepared last week.
Notice how high up on the pole the metal fins are.
When the pole was finally set, only a few inches of the top fin were above ground.
Through the whole process, traffic continued to move on the street, though only one lane at a time.

The building in the background below has an interesting history, most of which I do not know. It was originally, I believe, built as a gas station. Have you ever noticed that there were almost no gas stations on SR 114? This one and the building that now houses Rick's Pizza seemed to have been the only ones. On the other hand, there are about a dozen former gas stations that line US 231. More recently, the building was a laundry, and most recently a residence.

A final step was to twist the pole around to make sure it was firmly on the bottom. The plan was to fill the culvert in which it is standing with crushed stone. Another observer could not quite believe that the stone would hold it, but he many not have noticed just how deeply set the pole is.
One of the workers said that the reason for this special pole is that it will have no guy wires.

Updated: I posted too early. When I went back at 2:00 to see if they had finished, the pole was back up out of the hole and resting on the ground, with the crane keeping it upright. I asked what had happened and was told that mud had accumulated in the hole since it was drilled, and they had not been able to get it deep enough. the top of the fin has to be at ground level or below, and you can see in the above picture that it was not. They had had the city sucker truck come and remove the mud, and the hole was now back to 17 feet deep.

This project is just like my home projects--nothing ever goes right the first time.

Update 2: A bit before 4:00 I checked again and the pole had been set back in the hole and workers were dumping gravel around it. The dump truck on the other side of the pole and the loader on this side both were carrying gravel from the pile in the lot that the project has used for storage on the corner of Vine and Cullen. The workers had a vibrator to compact the gravel and seemed to be having some kind of problem. The sun was getting very low and there was still a lot of space to fill.

This was the view from Clark that shows how high the pole is. It will soon be a familiar sight, something we expect to see.
Still another update: I got some addition information about the building in the pictures. It was originally a Shell station run by a man named Alva Page. In addition to the Shell station, he also had the Coca Cola distributorship for Jasper County and much of the building was used for bottle storage. The Pages lived in the house behind the Methodist Church that was demolished in early 2010.

Its next stage of use was as a restaurant, but this was a very short use. Then it became the home of the Rensselaer Bottling Company, which was originally behind the Horton Building (now The Spaw). You can see from the foundation that is still there that it was a very small building. After the Bottling Company closed, it was empty for a few years and then was purchased by the Tonners and became Superior Cleaners. When the Tonners moved in, the place was full of broken bottles and bottles in cases. They hired a man to take the bottles to the Rensselaer dump (which now lies below Bicenntennial Park.) The man took three truckloads of bottles and dumped them. So if you have ever wondered what happened to all the bottles of the Rensselaer Bottling Company and why they are so rare, they lie buried and probably smashed somewhere under Bicentennial Park.

The gas station that is now Rick's Pizza was originally a Sinclair station owned by a man named Bunker Hill who lived in the house behind the station. Between its life as a gas station and as a pizza parlor, it was a restaurant for a while.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a history of all the buildings in Rensselaer?


Phil said...

Nicely documented, and the pictures were fun. Thanks for this!

reMark said...

Our very own sundial! Thanks for the post. Well Done.

Ed said...

I don't quite understand why you need such a massive pole, what does it do? If it's for power are you expecting a whole string of these things going through town?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you have all those good ideas. Histories of many buildings would be interesting as what you have just told. This information needs to be saved. Thank you for that building's history.