We Celebrate Aerial Wire’s Third Century

We Celebrate Aerial Wire’s Third Century of Operation



Do You . . . miss . . . open wire?


Pioneers . . . that’s what they were!  The “boomer” linemen.  Piking poles, “throwing a phantom,” “Loading circuits” and generally building this nation’s earliest communications infrastructure: the open wire aerial plant.


Their unmistakable iconic nature not only hastened the progress of this nation, but their ubiquitous countryside presence earned them a big role in the theatre which is Americana.  Unlike their “big brothers” in the electric utility industry, these actors didn’t swoop down with bluster marching devisively through the landscape . . . they merely danced through it.


They were part of a slower and more folksy time in American life. They danced to the Song of the Open Wire.

How Did You Come To Admire This Technology?

The open road has become a much more lonely place without aerial lines.

Were you a former lineman or installer, shivering in the frigid cold, challenged by the trying times of a major sleet storm, swearing under your breath at miles and miles of mangled and broken strands of wire?  Wires scattered about in the ditches like cooked spaghetti, enveloped with an ice encrusted burden, no longer dancing in the air, but subdued by nature–a reminder that man was not the master of the environment. 


As an outside plant engineer, did you plan, design and rehabilitate open wire as it evolved during your career?


Did you work for Burlington-Northern Railroad, Union Pacific, Rock Island, the Chicago Northwestern, the Missouri-Pacific, the Southern Pacific, Great Northern or the many other significant transportation companies yet mentioned?  Were you a Signalman, railway communications engineer or contributed in some major or minor way to this technical art?


Are you an aficionado of communications history?  Or, have you a simple affection for the hayday of the ten pin crossarm?  Do you miss them . . . regret the day you weren’t at your farm when the telephone company was linewrecking?  Now as an adult, you look back to yesteryear longingly, recalling your fascination for all things . . . open wire?


Well . . . from the number of comments heard, you are not alone.

If you share this interest then . . . this is your site.

Why This Website?

AT&T 10A Side Arm Fixture


Find out more about open wire.


How Did This Website Come to Be?


This website seeks to objectively share, distribute and promote technical, cultural and historical information as it pertained to open wire outside plant.


Open wire was an amazingly efficient means of communications.  If suitable precautions were taken in its design, construction and maintenance, amazing capabilities could materialize.  This technology demands respect!


What We Do


Celebrate those whose careers were shaped by this magnificent marvel!  Learn about the emerging technologies in open wire construction, from the earliest designs to the complicated electronic carrier of the 1950s and 1960s.  See how open wire even evoked a co-starring role in a few major motion pictures.  Recognize contributions, challenges, features, styles and motivations of those who worked in the Bell System, Independent telephone organizations, REA/RUS telephone association borrowers, as well as unique aspects of the military role in building open wire in Europe during both World Wars.


This is your site and we invite your contributions.  While insulators have received the lion’s share of publicity, we draw open the curtain on all the other fascinating aspects of this unmistakably memorable medium.