When electric power became available, many North Carolina cities supplied
their geographic areas with electricity but were too small to attract the
attention of monied, investor-owned utilities. Without trucks, hydraulics,
and powerful engines, it was the electric linemen who had to rely on sheer
muscle and ingenuity to keep the power flowing.
Climbing poles, pulling wire, and rigging ropes became common practice
for large crews of men who set poles by hand. Very slowly, over many years,
equipment began to replace manpower. But the traditions of these hearty
linemen were passed down through generations and kept alive by competitions
between cities, states, and even countries. Showcasing these special skills
and providing camaraderie became known as the lineman rodeo.
The North Carolina Association of Municipal Electric Systems (NCAMES)
is an organization of cities that supports the lineman’s tradition
and the progressive training of technical and safety-related topics in
overhead and underground line work. NCAMES’ year culminates with
an annual conference and rodeo where member cities encourage their linemen
to participate, compete, and promote safety and training in line work.
New Bern is proud of the exceptional talent that serves this community.
While many linemen are outstanding electrical workers, some have chosen
to compete in these rodeos and have been successful at both the journeyman
and apprentice levels. After taking first place in the NCAMES Rodeo over
multiple years, New Bern City linemen captured international first place
honors at the Kansas City International Lineman’s Rodeo in the municipal
division--not once, but two years in a row! Competing against the best
of the best, their efforts earned New Bern an overall fourth place worldwide.
Although these victories are a source of pride, all the electric line
workers bring a wealth of knowledge and skill into the community and their
daily power line work. For more information about training and rodeo competitions,
please access the ElectriCities web site on the Electric Utilities