When an equipment manufacturer builds a crane to lift fish, the job usually involves material handling operations in a temperature-controlled warehouse. But American Crane and Equipment Corp. of Douglassville, Pa., recently completed a job to design and manufacture a pair of outdoor, five-ton jib cranes to hoist live salmon over a hydroelectric dam near Tacoma, Wash.
Under natural conditions in the wild, young fingerling fish swim downstream to the ocean every year to feed, returning as mature three-year-old salmon to swim back upstream and spawn in the waters where they were born. On the Skokomish River, however, their journey was blocked by the Cushman Dam.
All that changed when dam operator Tacoma Power agreed during recent relicensing negotiations to restore river access for Lake Cushman's native salmon population. That's when the utility turned to a material handling equipment provider to help the romantically minded fish bypass the 275-foot-high dam.
American Crane delivered equipment that could lift the 9,000-pound holding tanks and carefully place them on carts and trucks to be driven around the huge dams. In addition to being able to do the heavy lifting, the cranes have corrosion-resistant components that allow them to operate in the aquatic environment.