One Lonely Pole


By Rod Shelley

Several years ago, I was employed as a field service representative for a local copier company. One of the places I would find myself going occasionally was Leavenworth, Kansas.

I would usually take Highway 45, which winds through some rather nice scenery, especially in the fall. Along one stretch of this highway, the road runs parallel to some railroad tracks. As I drove along, I noticed hundreds of old utility poles, all filled with glass insulators.

Noticing that although there were still wires stretching between several of the poles, the circuits were all dead - even the wires that were there terminated after only a few poles. This was one of the times I considered pulling over, and attempting to climb a pole. I never did - partially because:

  1. I had no climbing spikes, safety belt, or other pole-climbing equipment handy;
  2. A man in a business suit on top of a utility pole, unscrewing insulators, might have attracted just a little attention from any passing law enforcement personnel.

Therefore the glistening jewels remained perched atop their poles.

After my wife unwittingly awakened the beast within (i.e. my kid-like enthusiasm for insulators) in November of 1999, we decided to take a journey to this area to see if the poles were still there. We were already formulating plans for the eventual liberation of a fair number of insulators as we entered the stretch of road where the poles were.

To our horror, there was nary a trace that the poles had ever been there! After driving for several miles, we finally found one lonely pole still standing - with a few insulators still in place on the crossarms. The only reason this pole was spared was the fact that there was one power line passing from some nearby power poles to a piece of railroad apparatus via this pole.

I pulled onto a maintenance road close to the pole and got out to look things over. I noticed several blue/green insulators - CD-147s, and CD-145s - and one clear CD-154 still in place. Some still have remnants of wire still attached to them. After taking these photos, and looking the area over a bit, we got back into the Wondervan, and headed home.

I e-mailed another collector, Brian Riecker, in Manhattan, Kansas and told him about this encounter. He mentioned that some collectors used an "insulator puller" to unscrew the pieces from the ground, then catch them in a fishing net as they fell from the pole. I find this fascinating! I am currently looking at some ideas for this device. If I come up with a model that is at least reasonably successful, I'll put up a page with my design.

Until then, these insulators will hopefully avoid becoming targets for misguided young snipers with 22's!









Text and photos © Rod Shelley, 1999