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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 02/06/2005 19:49:48 EDT
Subject: Telegraph Pole Crossarms

Message Detail:

Within many war-time depictions, either drawn illustrations or photographs, where telegraph wires are included, they oft times seem to be placed upon poles on glass insulators one above the other and almost never more than three or four wires in each series. Mostly the images show poles support'g but two wires only.

Occasionally though, I've run across engravings and photographs where the telegraph wires are laced across single horizontal 'cross-arms' with glass insulators* near the tops of each pole. Only on one or two views of such lines have I ever seen two cross-trees per pole carrying wires and I don't think I can lay my hands on them now but the image above are unique as it shows both the cross-arm variety and the more common diagonal stobbs (I think I see three in all per pole) on the poles as seen on the right of this image just outside of what was once the US Armory brick & iron picket fence at Harpers Ferry Virginia.# To-day we call these stobbs 'wood-peckers' as they somewhat resemble the bird of the same name as he leans out from the trunk and taps his bill into the tree for food.

Notice the tree in the foreground (right) with the cross-arm with insulator-less pins on either side. Perhaps the wires are up higher iwhen this image was taken of a pole was placed higher on the slope to the right out of the image. Then again, this image may have been captured just after Harpers Ferry had seen another re-capture by one side or the other and the wires were not yet restored.

If you are pulling out a map right now allow me to say that the B&O Rail Road is between the Potomac River which is to the left of the ruins and is flowing southward toward Washington DC as it meets the Shenendoah River just beyond the sheer cliff of the western slope of Maryland Heights seen in the distant left. Loudoun Heights is on the left while Short Hill Mountain sits hazily between both. Federal and Confederate signal stations were established on both of these Heights at different times during the War. Flag re-enactments from these positions (including Bolivar Heights to the West - beyond right side of image) are worth a living historian's trip across the Atlantic.

Enjoy the view, I have - many times.
* under extreme field conditions the broken necks of wine or other bottles were substituted for lack of insulators on bare wire lines
# Harpers Ferry became part of West Virginia in the summer of 1863.

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Signal Corps Association (1860-1865
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