Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Fri 01 Nov 2019

Doug Hamiltonís Machine Memories (Part Thirteen)

Continuing our series focusing on the memories of retired plant man Doug Hamilton in his own words and featuring archive photos from his own private collection.

Doug Hamiltonís Machine Memories (Part Thirteen)

“At this time we were still in Grande Cache, Alberta, but by now I was working working for Sprecher Construction. Al Sprecher was a great guy to work for and I had lots of different things to do from working in the shop and in the yard to running everything he had”


“Al was nearing retirement age, but he still had lots on the go with the gravel pits, building lease roads for the oil patch, and loading train wagons. The railway would drop off 20 or so cars for me to load then come back the next day”. Al Sprecher himself can be seen in the photo below in the blue jacket

“Sometimes I would go for a ride with the engineer upfront in the engine, which was a great experience, often gone for two or three hours at a time, then back to start loading again with the 560. Other jobs included loading pit run gravel trucks with the Hough 90 from a pit way over towards  Grand Prairie, the material was used to build temporary roads for Dome Petroleum so they could get their oil rigs in”.

“Sprecher Construction also had their own rock quarry that I would sometimes be sent to when they needed a loading shovel”


“The public road from Grande Cache to Grand Prairie was gravel and in need of a lot of care after the winter, we kept one truck and a grader working full-time to repair it so that the other trucks could keep running” 


“We had a laugh one day, the Highway Inspector was giving our guy a ticket for being overloaded we were the ones fixing the road for them free”.  

“Another day a head consultant for Dome petroleum came in the pit and asked, will you work late and  if you can, can I bring you something to eat from camp “well if you’re passing a cheese sandwich would be great” I said, sometime later while I was loading I couldn’t see the truck for dust, but when it had cleared I could see a helicopter had landed between me and the other trucks waiting to be loaded, the pilot came over to me with a bag and within it my cheese sandwich, “I was told to bring this to you” he said, that must have been the most expensive cheese sandwich in the whole world!”


“Another day my loader was being delivered on a flat deck, but the truck had jack-knifed on an icy section of the road, “Doug you’re going to have to take it off” the driver shouted, I got up in the cab just as the last chain was being released and I was gone it slid off onto its side in the snowbank, with that my boss went to his pickup and came back with a roll of toilet paper, you gotta love a Canadian with a sense of humour!”. "We also had some large International 433 Pay Scrapers on the job but more about them in a later edition".


Lookout for more of Doug's Machine Memories in due course here on the Digger Man Blog.  

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