Last remaining shovel from Leland Olds Station 1963 groundbreaking?

There’s history to dig up in Chris Baumgartner’s office.

Chris Baumgartner, manager of member relations, keeps a piece of history in his office.

The Basin Electric manager of member relations has an old rusty shovel in his office. He got it from a friend, Jeff Umphlett, the general manager at Big Horn Rural Electric Company in Basin, Wyoming.

Jeff got it from his dad, Jim Umphlett. Jim says the shovel was always just sitting in the corner of the boardroom at Shoshone River Power Inc. in Cody, Wyoming. But when Shoshone River was bought out by Pacific Power & Light in 1986, Jim grabbed the shovel along with other memorabilia. He says at that point, the shovel was in mint condition. He believes it was used by a Tri-State G&T representative at the Leland Olds Station groundbreaking on June 22, 1963.

So what else to do with a perfectly good shovel? Jim used it in his garden until 2002, when he moved into a home that didn’t require yard maintenance. During the move, he collected a bunch of stuff to give to his son, Jeff, who was working for a co-op.

Jeff took it home. He started telling people about the shovel. You could just barely make out the words: “Leland Olds Station Groundbreaking 1963”

Jeff had an idea. “Here’s a guy (Chris Baumgartner) who’s so passionate about his job, so proud to work for Basin Electric, so I gave him the shovel.”

Chris keeps the shovel in his office as a conversation piece. He says he’s been told it should go into the Basin Electric vault. But until he’s forced to move the shovel to another location, he’s keeping it right where it is. It deserves a break.

(From left): BEPC President Art Jones, U.S. Senator Quentin Burdick, ND Governor William Guy, REA Administrator Norman Clapp, Maud Olds (Leland Olds' widow), Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Power Development Ken Holum and John Olds (Leland Olds' son).

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