Gone Shootin’

EPUD and Tillamook People's Utility District work together through weaponry

Screenshot image of EPUD's elephant gun.

Lane County is still feeling the after-effects of February’s “snowpocalypse.” Eugene-Springfield has more or less recovered — except for some people who have left tree remains to lie around, blocking sidewalks — but in the rural areas, it takes some creativity to restore power.

Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) and Tillamook People’s Utility District had to deal with the wide Willamette River when restoring power on March 7 at the Cottage Grove Dam and Reservoir, which, as part of the Willamette River Project, provides flood management for the area. Because of snowpocalypse, a power line to the dam was downed.

But EPUD was there to save the day with an elephant gun.

To deliver a power line across a large body of water, it’s actually common to use an elephant gun, says Patty Jo Angelini, EPUD’s public relations coordinator. In fact, EPUD has its own elephant gun, which is kept in a locked room, since this isn’t new for the utility company. EPUD has previously had to shoot its elephant gun 30 times at other locations.

This is the first time it’s happened at Cottage Grove Dam, though, Angelini says.

When using the elephant gun at Cottage Grove Dam — and as is usual practice —  crewmembers were on each side of the river. The shooter inserted a rod that has a string attached, aimed for the bank and shot.

“Once the rope is across, it pulls the power line across,” she adds.

Sometimes this takes a few attempts. Luckily, since the camera was rolling, the crew got it on the first try. Skip ahead to the one minute point if you want to get to the shooting part.