Roland Hamburg was working in the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota, when he moved to Arizona at age 21 to work on Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. He lived in Page working on the project for three years until relocating to Phoenix for a 22-year career as an oiler with W.R. Skousen in Mesa.
For many years while driving along South 51st Avenue, I’ve admired the old Caterpillar grader parked at the Royden Construction yard. The blade was occasionally used to grade the company’s lot. The last time I drove by the little grader was gone. I hoped they had merely moved the blade and not scrapped it.
Fortunately, I discovered the machine had been purchased for $2,500 by Dynamic Diesel Repair when I went to interview one of their old-school mechanics, Roland Hamberg.
I met with Roland and his son, Lonnie Hamberg, in the breakroom of Dynamic Diesel Repair. Roland
works for the company as a parts runner and mechanic liaison and had just finished his last call of the day before our interview. He looked just like an old school mechanic should, wearing worn, grease-stained overalls, a trucker-style ball cap, and a pocket containing writing utensils. With Roland’s hearing aid on the fritz, Lonnie helped me with my questions, and his father began telling some great stories about his construction career.
Roland was born in 1936 and began his career in the City of Virginia, Minnesota located in the famous Mesabi Iron Range. He worked various jobs before affiliating with the Union, Local 49, or as he stated, “the 49ers.”
When he was 21, Roland...
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This article originally appeared in the Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2019 issue, Vol. 8, No.1. The Arizona Contractor & Community magazine is a Bi-monthly publication.