Friday, October 11, 2013

Insulator Post -- Vintage Hemingray Recovered

One day last month I was riding along my local rail trail from the north end to the south end as is usually my practice. When on the return leg I noticed one of two old telegraph poles I pass along the way was not sticking up vertical anymore but laying in broken pieces on the ground.  The poles are noteworthy to me because they make up the last few that are still standing along the old B & O spur route that once connected Mansfield and Butler Ohio.

A few years ago I happened to be looking up (Something I'm often doing while reclined comfortably on my recumbent bike) and noticed that the two weathered poles still had some old aqua colored glass insulators on the cross arms.  I even took a picture of this particular pole with its cross arms tilting haphazardly.  The ever present tug of gravity and crumbling decay of the wood eventually brought the pole down and this is how I found it.  I noticed right away as I pulled off the trail and looked down at the broken pieces that there was not a single insulator in sight.

Oh well I thought the pieces were already picked and I just wasn't in the right place at the right time.  I was about to head on my way but I decided to get off my bike and take a closer look anyway.  In the grass half hidden under the pole a small patch of blue caught my eye.  I kicked away the debris and found an insulator still screwed onto a rusty pin.  In my excitement I scanned around the surrounding area and found the second one a few feet away just barely visible in the scrub.  At some point after the pole was already on the ground someone had cut down the taller brush in this little section between the road and the bike trail and I think that provided some of the cover for these two insulators to remain hidden until I came along.    

As an antique insulator collector this was a monumental piece of luck for me.  All of the insulators in my collection I have purchased from other collectors, found at garage sales and at insulator shows.  I have spotted many old insulators still stuck on poles some even with telegraph wire but this is the first time in my four or five years as a collector actually picking some pieces from a pole.

Long ago the copper wires these insulators supported carried land line Morse code telegraphy probably B & O railroad business, news and personal messages of citizens living in the area.  These two Hemingray - 42s were probably made in the 1920's or 30's.  They are not worth much maybe a quarter dollar a piece or fifty cents but knowing exactly where they came from and being able to document their provenance here for the future is something valuable to me.



  1. RCT: Thats friggin' awesome! I can imagine your excitement upon finding them; that's just great. They couldn't possibly have been found by someone more appropriate! Great post; great score!

  2. Thanks Mike! Yes these two will always have a special place in my collection.

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