Pole Line Construction 3: Erecting Poles & Attaching Crossarms 1958 US Army Training Film

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Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).


A utility pole is a column or post used to support overhead power lines and various other public utilities, such as cable, fibre optic cable, and related equipment such as transformers and street lights. It can be referred to as a transmission pole, telephone pole, telecommunication pole, power pole, hydro pole,[1] telegraph pole, or telegraph post, depending on its application. A stobie pole is a multi-purpose pole made of two steel joists held apart by a slab of concrete in the middle, generally found in South Australia.

Electrical cable is routed overhead on utility poles as an inexpensive way to keep it insulated from the ground and out of the way of people and vehicles. Utility poles can be made of wood, metal, concrete, or composites like fiberglass. They are used for two different types of power lines; subtransmission lines which carry higher voltage power between substations, and distribution lines which distribute lower voltage power to customers.

Utility poles were first used in the mid-19th century with telegraph systems, starting with Samuel Morse who attempted to bury a line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., but moved it aboveground when this system proved faulty. Today, underground distribution lines are increasingly used as an alternative to utility poles in residential neighborhoods, due to poles’ perceived ugliness…


In 1844, the United States Congress granted Samuel Morse $30,000 to build a 40-mile telegraph line between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Morse began by having a lead-sheathed cable made. After laying seven miles underground, he tested it. He found so many faults with this system that he dug up his cable, stripped off its sheath, bought poles and strung his wires overhead. On February 7, 1844, Morse inserted the following advertisement in the Washington newspaper: “Sealed proposals will be received by the undersigned for furnishing 700 straight and sound chestnut posts with the bark on and of the following dimensions to wit: ‘Each post must not be less than eight inches in diameter at the butt and tapering to five or six inches at the top. Six hundred and eighty of said posts to be 24 feet in length, and 20 of them 30 feet in length.'”

One of the early Bell System lines was the Washington DC-Norfolk line which was for the most part, square sawn tapered poles of yellow pine probably treated to refusal with creosote. “Treated to refusal” means that the manufacturer forces preservatives into the wood, until it refuses to accept more, but performance is not guaranteed. Some of these were still in service after 80 years…

In Eastern Europe, Russia, and third world countries, many utility poles still carry bare communication wires mounted on insulators not only along railway lines, but also along roads and sometimes even in urban areas. Errant traffic being uncommon on railways, their poles are usually less tall. In the United States electricity is predominately carried on unshielded aluminum conductors wound around a solid steel core and affixed to rated insulators made from glass, ceramic, or poly. Telephone, CATV, and fibre optic cables are generally attached directly to the pole without insulators.

In the United Kingdom, much of the rural electricity distribution system is carried on wood poles…

Today, utility poles may hold much more than the uninsulated copper wire that they originally supported. Thicker cables holding many twisted pair, coaxial cable, or even fibre-optic, may be carried. Simple analogue repeaters or other outside plant equipment have long been mounted against poles, and often new digital equipment for multiplexing/demultiplexing or digital repeaters may now be seen. In many places, as seen in the illustration, providers of electricity, television, telephone, street light, traffic signal and other services share poles, either in joint ownership or by renting space to each other…

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