This is a 4-foot “Stocky” ladder my former company made. The Michigan Ladder Company was the last factory in the USA that manufactured ladders made of wood. There had once been many. Over the years I saw a few go out of business gobbled up by MLC. It was sad to see parts and materials from other companies come up to be used or warehoused in MLC. Even sadder for me was seeing some parts of those companies WITH all the parts of my former company on the auction block a year ago when the factory went out of business.
I was a wood inspector of wood ladder parts for 43 years. I think about the last 25 or so I was the only inspector left. I took great pride in my work. Looking at the side rails and legs you may notice how clear blemish free the wood is. It had to be the strongest and highest grade of yellow pine to be made into a ladder. No big knots. No crossed grain or decay. No insect damage. No sign of bark. No “compression failures” - which were a defect that looked like a jagged scratch across the wood where a tree fell, cracked then pressed back together. Hairline fracture that can kill a human due to the weakening of the wood. Funny how for decades I just thought of the job as a job. I think the last 10 or so years I saw the beauty and uniqueness of what I did. Writing this I feel a little bit of sorrow, remembering. I AM moving on now. Old lesson to relearn constantly. Look forward. Most of the time ;-) To my knowledge, MLC was the last factory to make wooden ladders in the USA. For a few years, it was unique. For more than a few, I had a one of it’s kind job in the USA. I was also the last one to DO THAT JOB that is no more. Yes I miss it but time faded memories and hopefully the pain of them.