Burger, please tell us about the poles, cross arms, and insulators. That's a lot of wires.
Often wondered that myself..since you don't see anything like that nowadays, and there's ten times the places using power/phones
Those are telephone poles not power poles. Somebody else can correct me if I am wrong but I think each telephone line required it's own wires. That's why party lines were so common. These could also be long distance or "trunk" lines which were used between exchanges.
Starting with the two insulators on each side of the pole and counting outward, you have the circuit number. One conductor for each circuit on each side of the pole. Then some of the circuits might be party lines and so would have more than one customer to a circuit. Also some of the lines could be toll lines which are connected by the operator for making long distance calls. That is why sometimes in the old days one would call the operator and tell her who you wanted to call in another city and then she would call back when the connections were made.
I sure hope one of them cars is a steamer otherwise somebody has got a problem. Jim
Those are telegraph wires I do believe.
the first car looks to be a huppmoble. charley
We used to call that "open wire" or "Bird wire"
There are still a few of those poles along I57 around Kankakee, IL. Most still have all of their insulators (too close to the road for kids & BB guns to shoot them I guess).
Norm pretty much pegged it. A wonderful bright sun/backlit shot that
makes all that glass glow !
It would be interesting to know the location. The size of the insulators
makes me lean towards Tim Rogers' comment that it is telegraph, rather
than phone. The two look nearly identical in most construction methods,
but phone insulators tend to be small, while the telegraph operators tended
to favor larger "hoopskirt" styles.
However, telegraph operators tended to follow RR routes, due to their
operational cross-use WITH the railroads. This line appears to be following
a road. The distant pole appears to have a dead-end arm, suggesting it
is phone, and a local circuit deadended there.
Post-1911 builds or rebuilds of AT&T main lines like we see here would
often incorporate larger insulator styles, so it could very well be phone.
The Bell phone sign on the building and the overall look of the area makes
me think it is phone.
John, .... this is openwire. "Birdwire" is the flat, sheathed stuff used for
temporary connections. Few people know that name ! 10 bonus points
for you !
I bet those were telegraph wires that used to run down the tracks near my house when I was a kid. I knew what phone lines and power lines were but we kids just called those power lines too. Never thought about a telegraph until Burger said they followed the railroad. They weren't that tall and had 8-12 wires. I used to get those insulators when they fell off. They finally cleared them out.
Telegraph was invented in 1844 and was a direct parallel to the development
of railroads. It was a natural fit for the wires to follow the tracks for both usage
by the populations along the route, but also the RR itself, communicating train
orders and other RR business long the route/s.
In the days before the auto, good roads were largely unknown and through roads
a rarity. Hard to get your head around that in today's age of Interstates and celfones.
Telephone did not come into existence until 1876 and largely remained a local,
"walkie-talkie" type system that did not reach outside a hotel or town except in
bigger cities for decades. It wasn't until 1915 that the first thru-route transcontinental
telephone line was completed. Before that, one did as Norm suggested, you placed
a call, and when all the connections between systems were made, you'd get a call
back to let you know the line was open to your target number.
It is a fascinating history that holds a pretty close parallel to the development
of the west and the early auto era, which pretty much ended the "wild" days of
>In the days before the auto, good roads were largely unknown and through roads
The father of one of my mother's childhood friends was born in the tail end of the 19th century and lived several years past his 100th birthday; he'd had a pretty interesting life for a Maine farm boy...he used to tell that he and his brother went to Montana after WWI and worked on a real ranch, this fellow working as a wrangler. In the late 20s they got word their mother was sick and decided to head home to see her. He used to tell that he and his brother left Montana in a Model A headed for Maine; and except for an occasional small town with dirt roads along the route, they drove all the way to Chicago following a couple of wheel ruts in the grass!
I have read similar accounts of stopping at encountered farms and
small towns and asking directions to the next farm or town over long
distances while traveling west of the Mississippi, even into the teens
and 20's. It was a different world !
We're spoiled by modern telephone service. My first wife was from Alice Springs in the middle of Australia; we were married in 1962. A year later, her brother married. We wanted to call them at the wedding reception to wish them well. We reserved the call 24 hours ahead. When the operator came on to tell us the line was ready, we talked. It sounded as though the words were surfing waves. All very emotional, since my wife hadn't heard her family's voices in a year. Then our end of the conversation failed; we could hear them, but they couldn't hear us. And that little experiment was damned expensive!
In the summer of 1929, my father and a buddy traveled cross the U.S. and back, with excursions into Canada and Mexico, in a Model A sport coupe. They took pictures, of course. One picture was of the road with a U.S. highway shield marker: two ruts with grass between them.
About 1953 I drove from Los Angeles to Medford Oregon actually Central Point which is west of Medford. My aunt and uncle lived there. I got there about 10:00 PM and went to a pay phone to call them. I picked up the receiver and dropped in a nickel. Then I cranked and no one answered. Then I tried a dime and cranked, no one answered. So I drove to their house and knocked on the door. I told them I wondered if the operator didn't work nights? They just laughed and said, "you crank first before you lift the receiver!"
Thank you Norm, I learned something new today!
Very useful if I ever have to make a call using a crank phone.
Norm, I had a similar experience with a non-crank, non-operator pay phone in the early 70's. I was working on a farm in northern Vermont. Two of us were a couple of towns away picking up a load of sawdust or something and had a problem with the truck. We found a pay phone and tried to call back to the farm. Drop in a dime, dial, nothing! After many tries, we gave up and did whatever we needed to do to the truck to get us back home. Found out later that on that particular exchange you had to dial first, THEN drop in your money.