Telegraph poles

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Telegraph poles

Postby trainsinmaine » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:45 am

When did the B&M and MEC discontinue use of telegraphy? I grew up in central Mass. near the Fitchburg main, and recall the old four-tiered poles standing into the '70s, but I don't know whether they were still being used. IIRC, most of them were taken down shortly after the Guilford purchase and replaced with new single-tiered poles that I assume were used for electrical/signaling purposes. (The same thing was done on the MEC.) The wires on these later poles appear now to be dormant, except between proximate signals cabinets.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby jaymac » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:01 pm

Can't answer for telegraphy, but at least some of the wire got repurposed for telephony, but with the shift from manned stations and towers and to radio for train-order transmission, there was less demand for telephony, so wayside poles generally got ignored unless they fell across tracks. There was even some further repurposing for both wayside and crossing-protection signaling, some of which is still in effect.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby neman2 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:58 pm

It's ironic that because of the Federal mandate for PTC the MBTA commuter lines in Eastern Mass are sprouting wooden poles like weeds every weekend.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:46 pm

Some of the pole lines had power and or code lines for signals, besides the communications lines. I have mentioned before that B&MRRHS Bulletin had an article about the communication systems used by B&M. It was published about 10 years ago.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby Lincoln78 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:03 pm

Fitchburg line in Lincoln had several sets of greenish (presumably copper) wires at the top of the poles. I remember those wire disappearing sometime in the late seventies. I think there was a comm line too; not sure what it did or when they disappeared.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby Statkowski » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:55 pm

Don't know about the B&M, but the New Haven switched over from telegraph to telephone circa 1927.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby b&m 1566 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:10 pm

jaymac wrote:Can't answer for telegraphy, but at least some of the wire got repurposed for telephony, but with the shift from manned stations and towers and to radio for train-order transmission, there was less demand for telephony, so wayside poles generally got ignored unless they fell across tracks. There was even some further repurposing for both wayside and crossing-protection signaling, some of which is still in effect.


Could the same wire support phones lines or did phone lines require new wiring to go up across the system?
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby S1f3432 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:37 pm

I hired on in the MEC signal department in 1976, by which time telegraph was long gone and telephone
communications was mostly on lines leased from New England Telephone Co. The exception to this was
the mainline from Portland to Bangor via Brunswick where the pole line was maintained for the block
signal system and a pole line from Livermore Falls to Rumford maintained only for the phone line. Both
of these was a party-line hand-crank phone system into each station and section house with a few pole
mounted phone boxes here and there. This same type of system was used on the the leased lines for
most of the rest of the railroad. The Lead Signal Maintainer in Lewiston who I worked with in 77-78
hired on in 1946 and related to me that up into the early 50's the pole line was owned and maintained
by Western Union with their own crews. Maine Central leased space on the poles from WU underneath
the telegraph lines where the railroad installed whatever crossarms and equipment it needed with its
own crews from the signal dept. At some point WU abandoned the pole line with the railroad assuming
maintenance where needed. The dispatchers phone was entirely separate from this and on separate
leased Bell System circuits.
In contrast, when I was a kid I hung around the GT quite a bit and the railroad maintained pole line and
a two-wire circuit the length of the railroad from Portland to Montreal that handled the dispatchers
phone circuit as well as the Comptel teletype machines that were used for waybills, messages and
just about anything else that got printed out on paper. I don't know if Western Union was still being
handled at that time- late 60's.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby jaymac » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:01 am

b&m 1566 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:10 pm
Could the same wire support phones lines or did phone lines require new wiring to go up across the system?


As long as the wires were in good shape, they could be used for anything -- telegraphy, telephony, signal coding, crossing protection, teletype -- that didn't require high-speed date capability.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby BandA » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:41 pm

POTS - "Plain Old Telephone Service" is a twisted-pair of insulated copper wires, aka "CAT-2" I think. Using pairs of wires and twisting them cancels out interference, which is also important because these pairs are usually tightly bundled into a cable. What I've seen of the old telegraph poles on the B&A mainline, apparently in use until the the 2000's for signaling, were individual wires with insulation falling off, on glass or plastic or missing insulators, patched with cable bundles. Having the wires separated by a few inches & on insulators would help some with interference, and allow higher current than telco wires. So, probably could run analog telephone over the telegraph wires but the quality would be variable & it would be pretty bad during a rainstorm and a nightmare to debug.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby jaymac » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:04 am

Crosstalk was more or less successfully prevented by having transposition brackets at prescribed intervals to change wire position and reduce pickup. Even with those, the system was never intended for anything other than low-speed usage.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby Manalishi » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:52 pm

Speaking of telegraph poles, I took a walk on the old Eastern ROW on the Hampton marsh Sunday. I can't speak for Mass. but I'm guessing every telegraph pole from the MA/NH state line to Portland was cut down. Except for about a half a dozen on the marsh. Anybody have an idea why these were spared?

All but 2 are about to fall into a salt water channel as decades of tidal ebb and flow are slowly undermining the bases of the poles.

Chris
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby Manalishi » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:56 pm

.....
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby jbvb » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:36 pm

Those poles might have been left standing because no budget to haul them away and cut poles next to tidal channels turn into easily identifiable navigation hazards during storm surges. Somebody showing more foresight than usual. I'll photograph that H-arm next time I'm up that way; it probably was for a transition from pole to cable, possibly for the Hampton River bridge.

Poles between Ipswich and Parker St. Newburyport were removed during the late-1990s rebuilding/reopening. Parker St. to Merrimack St. when the rail trail was built. Around the Merrimack River draw during its "don't fall into the river" rebuild in the 1980s. The B&M probably salvaged usable poles between Kittery and PT Tower 1 in 1945 and 1952. I didn't notice when Seabrook - Portsmouth got cleaned up, but poles were gone from Hampton and North Hampton years before the rails were removed.
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Re: Telegraph poles

Postby S1f3432 » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:57 pm

H- fixtures (MEC term) were sometimes used as a storm brace. In a heavy wind, one pole going down would
take others with it one after another like dominos. An H- fixture properly back guyed for longitudinal as well
as sideways movement would halt the domino effect.
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