Open Wire Linewrecking

Open Wire Linewrecking . . . A Tale of Woe


Credit: Peter Mortensen


Wrecking Out the Last Working Open Wire Circuit in Eastern Nebraska, July 1984


A Narrative by Peter Mortensen, Telephone Pioneer

This is Ed on the first pole I decided we should climb. Photo credit: Peter Mortensen

This is me, Peter Mortensen, on the last pole where we had to climb. Photo credit: Peter Mortensen


By the middle of 1983, all the open wire had been removed from the area of eastern Nebraska covered by the US West line crew from Fremont. 


In July of 1984 our boss, Jim Socha, sent me and Ed Rowell to Lyons to check on an open wire bracket pair that was supposedly still working.  We stopped at the Lyons central office to see what the local techs knew. Sure enough, George Osborn one of the area Combination techs, knew exactly where the lead was and who it served–which was his own uncle. The lead was about three blocks long and ran down the alley behind the business section of downtown Lyons and then north to the outskirts of town. 


The home it served although on one of the towns paved streets was considered outside of the town limits. When the new buried cable was placed and put into service his was the last home to be cut over.  And, for whatever reason, this never happened. There had been a big rain storm in the area and the local I and M crew got a trouble ticket. George took the ticket and it was then he figured out it was still being served with open wire.  George was going to hook up the existing buried drop to the home but the cable splicer had never even opened the closure. Ed took care of the closure and I went and placed the can on the house and hooked up the drop. When Ed had the drop hot I did the cut over and removed the aerial drop from the house. We then proceeded to remove the wire.

Photo credit: Peter Mortensen.


This is Ed on one of the first poles where we had to climb.


This is me on the last pole that I decided we should climb.


I’m removing the brackets and hardware from the pole. I saved a bracket, hardware and the clear Hemingray 17 insulator they now reside in the Pioneer lounge in the Fremont central office.


It was a hot day so I put the bucket on the boom and moved Ed from pole to pole for the remaining two blocks.


Last Pole!


The bracket, hardware and insulator are in front of the lighted display case my display at the Omaha Insulator Show in 1987


This was the last open wire I ever worked.

Pete Mortensen


Photo credit: Peter Mortensen.

Photo credit: Peter Mortensen.

Photo credit: Peter Mortensen.

Photo credit: Peter Mortensen.

Wooden bracket with reinforcement hardware (center table top) from the last Nebraska open wire dismantling shown at a recent insulator show. Photo credit: Peter Mortensen.

1924 open wire linewrecking in urban surroundings. Gary, Indiana.

Removing open wire in the 1920s.

Railroad ruins near Lindsborg, Kansas.

MoPac circuits removed for I-135 Lindsborg, Kansas re-route project 1996

Scavenging BNSF Signal/Communications Arms near Seward, Nebraska 2002 (by permission).

Discarded 10-pin American Railway Association specification arms salvaged from Seward, Nebraska by The Electric Orphanage in 2003.

Loading arms for preservation by The Electric Orphanage in 2003.

Northwestern Bell Tyndall lead denuded of insulators with wire strands, 1982.

Bare of glass the carcass of a Tyndall-Mitchell pole lies lifeless.

Felled again from forest to pole; from cut pole to . . . ?

Fallen giant, 1989, Nevada

Shorn of whispy wire, the TC-Nevada is taking on faded glory.