When electric power became available, many North Carolina cities supplied their geographic areas with electricity, but were too small to attract the attention of large, well-funded, investor-owned utilities. Without trucks, hydraulics, and powerful engines, municipalities relied on the sheer muscle and ingenuity of their linemen 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 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, City of New Bern 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. We thank them for their commitment to a well-powered New Bern!