Telegraph Line Maintenance Problems

[Newspaper]

Publication: The Fort Wayne News

Fort Wayne, IN, United States
p. 6


Hardships of Telegraph Poles.

"Yes," said Joseph Donner, superintendent of telegraph for the Southern Pacific railroad, "telegraph poles along the line have a hard time. Particularly is this so out west, where the poles are costly and stations are few and far between. Now, out in the Arizona desert the poles are played the deuce with generally. There is a sort of woodpecker that picks the posts absolutely to pieces, thinking there may be insects inside of the wood. They hear the humming and haven't sense enough to know what causes it. Then near the hills the black bears imagine that each pole contains a swarm of bees and they climb to the top and chew the glass insulators to pieces; but the sandstorms are the things that create the most havoc. When the winds blow strongly, the sand is drifted at a rapid rate and the grains cut away the wood at a fearful rate. It was a common thing to have an oak pole worn to a shaving in a day's time, while I have seen poles just ground to the surface of the earth during a single storm. Things got so bad our there that the company decided to substitute steel poles for the oak and cedar, but that didn't remedy the evil at all. The sand just wore away the metal on each side of the pole until the center was as sharp as a razor, and all the Indians used to shave themselves on the edge. We finally managed to fix things just painted the poles with soft pitch. The pitch caught the sand, and now every pole is about two f