Since man first caught lightning in a bottle and tamed electricity, a wary relationship has been maintained with this unimaginably critical but deadly force. A select caste of technicians has always been relied on to wrangle the vital spark: the linemen (and, increasingly, linewomen). Over every fruited plain and purple mountain of this nation are strung lines conveying hundreds of thousands of volts to the remotest corners. Every mile of line represents an engineering marvel and an imperiled life.
Here is a rare chance to meet these unsung heroes of American progress. Go back in time with men who put up lines half a century ago against stunning odds. Meet victims of harrowing power line accidents. See how today’s trainees are being prepared and watch as they learn how to rescue comrades from high voltage towers.
In the early days, the death toll among these men was one in two. Through their own improvisational ingenuity they devised home-made solutions to many of the problems that hampered electrical distribution and made their work so dangerous. The work remains risky--making repairs from the skids of a hovering helicopter, voluntarily allowing 500,000 volts to pass through your body--but today the death toll is far lower and the real story is the mammoth scope of modern electrification projects.
A 50 minute documentary from the History Channel and A&E Te;evision Networks.