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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Father's work for Duke Power as a steel foreman

Sigmon's father worked for Duke Power as a steel foreman. She mentions three major projects that he helped supervise. First was the Riverbend Steam Station near Mount Holly, a project that was finished in 1913 and ceased operation in 1954. Second came the Oxford Dam in Catawba County, finished in 1928, which still protects families downstream from flooding. She also says that he worked on the Gauley Bridge project in West Virginia, and this was probably the case of environmental racism that is the basis for The Hawk's Nest Incident. In 1930-1931, white foremen oversaw thousands of black workers who drilled a tunnel through a nearby mountain to divert the river. The deaths of many of those black workers prompted government officials to change laws in workers' rights and compensation laws.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACQUELYN HALL:
And what did your daddy do?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
He worked for Duke Power. They built these dams and powerhouses. In fact, he helped build the one at River Bent at Mount Harley and the one at Oxford Dam out here. And then we went to West Virginia, Goley Bridge. He helped build that one out there. We was out there about five or six year.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was his job?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
He was a foreman for the steel. He did the looking after the steel to see that it was laid right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did he get into that line of work?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
I don't know. When he was just young, he built bridges. In fact, he helped build this overhead bridge down here. He was real good at reading blueprint and all that stuff. And I have a brother that lives in Thomasville, and he's a contractor.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You don't know how your daddy learned how to …
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
He just learned it on himself. He built houses, too. After he retired from that kind of work, he then started building houses and remodeling and stuff like that. That was after the War.