Regarding a previous History Mystery photograph of the Western Aluminum Producers (M.M. Al) Plant, Casey Roberts wrote: The metal framework that was in the foreground, and which has been identified as being in the local aluminum plant, is most likely an anode electrode used in melting the bauxite aluminum ore. If I remember correctly, there were at least a couple of lines of "pots" or electrolysis cells in the main building and each one would have had one of these anodes.
The anodes consisted of the steel framework seen in the picture which was filled with a mixture of carbon and coal-tar pitch, which was the actual anode. The "floor" of the inside of the steel frame appears to be the top of the pitch layer that would be several inches thick and in contact with the bauxite underneath it during the smelting process. The anode would have been hoisted up from the pictured location and moved to the pot lines to cover the pots after the cells were filled with bauxite.
The smelting of aluminum requires large amounts of current being passed through the bauxite in the electrolytic cell, which is the reason the plant was located here, near The Dalles Dam.
During a summer when I was in college, I worked as a lab technician at what was then the Harvey Aluminum plant and sampling the carbon/pitch mixture was something I did on occasion. I learned the hard way that the pitch is a "photo-sensitizing agent" when I got a severe sunburn after a short exposure to the sun.
Terray Harmon contributed to this report.
Last week’s History Mystery photo, above, was scanned from a 2 1/4 by 2 1/4-inch negative from the archives of The Dalles Chronicle.
The information on the envelop reads, “Western Alum. Producers (M.M. Al) Plant and staff pictures. March 15, 1979.”
Harmon noted the photo must have been taken in the foundry portion of the plant, where they manufactured “ingots, pigs and logs.”
The Dalles Chronicle
20 Years Ago-1996
Five teenage males were injured when two pickups collided in a head-on accident in the 2000 block of Mt. Hood Street on Tuesday morning, but only one of them remains in the hospital. The pickups collided in the northbound lane of traffic. The accident is still under investigation.
Two people have filed so far for the Wasco County Commissioner seat held by Republican Chuck Filbin, who is not seeking a second term. Former twice-elected county commissioner Jim Comini, a Democrat, and Republican Dave Huntington, who serves on several local boards and committees, have filed for the four-year office.
40 Years Ago-1976
The Maupin Grade School Board of Directors is seeking public opinion on the possible remodeling or replacement of the 60 year-old primary building. Letters were sent out to residents in the District in December, outlining the alternatives and announcing a series of public meetings where these alternatives would be discussed. About 100 letters have been returned. The board recently met in special session to discuss the matter.
Students at The Dalles High, Wahtonka High and Dufur High Schools soon may understand the private enterprise system better than many adults. The reason is “Economics for Young Americans” being distributed by The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce as a gift from the following businesses, Mauser’s, U.S. National Bank and The First National Bank of Oregon, Chamber of Commerce Manager L.L. (Bud) Hagen said.
60 Years Ago-1956
City police this morning turned up a stolen car when a man appeared at the police station to inquire “if he could buy” the car. The unidentified man had discovered an abandoned car near Russ’ Car and Truck service station, West Columbia River highway. Police started a check on the car and got in touch with the sheriff’s office in Goldendale in an effort to track down the owner. The car was on the sheriff’s “hot” sheet there but had not been reported stolen to local police.
Two Dalles TV co. men, out on trouble mission Saturday, narrowly missed serious injury or death when their power wagon slid off a rain-swept trail on the Klickitat hills and bounced down the rocky slope. Jim Langton, engineer, and George Sampson, salesman for the company, were returning from the company’s television antenna installation west of The Dalles on the Washington side of the Columbia when the truck went off the narrow road, Langton, the driver, rode the vehicle until it smashed into a rock outcropping on the brink of a hundred-foot cliff.
80 Years Ago-1936
Employment on the Port of The Dalles dock project, gaining constantly as work has progressed, today had reached 35 men, and it was reported at the office of J. F. O’Farrell, PWA engineer attached to the project. As construction continues and the pace of activity quickens, the number of men employed by Parker-Schram Company, contractors, engineers state. As many as 140 men may be working when construction reaches its peak.
In keeping with the celebrations being planned in 5000 cities of the United States on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thursday, January 30, local citizens and committeemen were busy today completing arrangements towards making this year’s “birthday ball as outstanding a success as the two previous balls have been a larger crowd than that attending either of the other two annual affairs is anticipated for this year with the music to be furnished by a local six-piece orchestra in the ball room of the Civic Auditorium.”
100 Years Ago-1916
The ice in the Columbia River started moving this morning and it was believed the stream would be soon cleared for navigation, but the hopes of river men were quickly dissipated the movement continuing only 20 minutes. The result of the slight breaking up of ice was that it piled up about eight feet high immediately below the mouth of the Mill Creek Tunnel.
Here is a piece of pie that is going begging at the democratic lunch counter —the Post Mastership at Bakeoven, Wasco County, Oregon. None wants the job and the indications are the citizens of that community will soon be without a post office for the reason no person can be found to eat the pie.