Defective Construction and Insulation of Telegraph Lines

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

New York, NY, United States
vol. 9, no. 360, p. 142-3, col. 3-2

Defective Construction and Insulation of Telegraph Lines.


EACH season has its peculiar difficulties and dangers for the telegraph, and no sooner are the lines free from one than another succeeds. In the winter, sleet, snow and ice encumber and break down the wires, and cause frequent interruptions to communication, and much labor, exposure and expense. In the spring the floods sweep away the poles and the storms prostrate the lines; in the summer lightning plays havoc with poles and instruments, and vegetation interferes with insulation; and in the fall the troubles of the winter are more or less repeated. So it goes, from the beginning to the end of the year.

One difficulty experienced with telegraph lines in this country is the inferior manner in which most of them are constructed. They are built hurriedly and cheaply-not always cheaply to the companies, it is true-but as a general thing without due regard to real economy and permanence of construction. The most substantially and thoroughly built are in the end unquestionably the most economical lines. Shoddy in telegraphy, as in almost every kind of construction, seldom if ever pays in the long run. It is time that the cheap system of construction should be abandoned, and that telegraph lines should be built to last. Fewer and more substantial poles would be much better. These should be so firmly planted in the earth that no ordinary storm could affect their stability. They should be prepared so as that decay might be checked, and a set of poles last double the time they now do generally. The usual plan adopted is to procure light poles, because they are more easily handled, and then plant them; only two or three-feet deep, and, of course, when they are loaded with wires, and winds and floods assail them, more or less go down, causing loss and damage much more than sufficient to have constructed a substantial and permanent line in the first place. This is a constant source of expense, to say nothing of the interruption to business which follows, and which oftentimes is the cause of even a greater toss.

Another prominent difficulty on American lines is the insufficient and inferior insulation almost universally in vogue. Common glass insulators are used, notwithstanding their inferiority has been demonstrated and acknowledged. If these were the best available there might be some excuse for their continued use, but there are several kinds of insulators much superior, and readily available. It is true that the original cost of good insulators is more than that of glass, but in the end they are much more economical. Even the Western Union Telegraph Company continues to Use glass for insulation, against the lessons which the, experience of years should have taught. The additional cost of battery consequent upon the use of these insulators per year would soon pay the extra cost of good insulation over poor.

We hope that the time may come when telegraph, lines will be constructed with a view to permanence and real economy, and that insulators may be adopted which will insulate in wet as well as dry weather. When it does, many of the pecuniary difficulties which now perplex and worry telegraph managers will vanish. It is true that there has been of late years some improvement in the construction of telegraph lines, but the opportunities for further material improvement are by no means exhausted, and in regard to insulation the majority of the lines of this country are but little if any better off than they were twenty years ago.


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:December 17, 2005 by: Elton Gish;