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As It Was: Red Chamberlain’s Horses Pull Power Lines into Place

In 1922, Pacific Power and Light Company, better known as Copco, was putting up a high voltage line from Prospect to Springfield, Ore. The 125 miles was steep and rugged country--impassible for trucks and mechanical equipment of the time.

Red Chamberlain knew what to do. His Percheron horses, "Cap" and "Bud," were a steady, well matched team, experienced in logging operations. Chamberlain erected the huge double poles needed for the 110,000-volt lines. Wires were rigged on the poles and the horses slowly backed up, pulling the poles into place.

The job took six months and Chamberlain returned to the Rogue Valley and his logging operations.  Soon, he obtained two new horses, "Pat" and "Baldy," a Shire Breed from England.  Shires were the tallest and toughest of the large breeds.

Over the years, Chamberlain and his teams of draft horses had harvested grain, hauled logs, loaded them on rail cars, and brought boxes of fruit to packing houses.  The power-line job was the most memorable.

Forty years after his power line job, Chamberlain still had Shire mares, and he was the caretaker at the Posse Grounds racetrack in Medford, Ore.

Source:  Brusha, Mary Alice. "Percheron Horses Aided Logging, Electrical Companies in Rogue Valley", Ashland Daily Tidings, February 18, 1965, p.10; Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library

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Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.