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Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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Linemen

Linemen were responsible both for erecting poles—each equipped with crossarms and insulators on pins—and for stringing telephone wire from one pole to the next until the desired connection was made.

Long-distance and rural lines normally followed the roads for easy access. Guy wires and anchors were installed to provide stability where wires turned a corner.

As the system grew, a number of lines were combined into aerial cables. These featured drop lines, spliced in by cablemen, who connected subscribers to the telephone line.

Installation and line maintenance involved physically climbing up to the wires, using spurs and a climbing belt looped around the telephone pole.

While linemen usually worked during the day, they put in a lot of overtime repairing downed poles and wires after each major storm.

Dave WickettUpon completing their repairs, they tested transmission quality to gauge the effectiveness of their work, as they would a newly installed line. If a problem cropped up, it was their job to identify and fix it.

Although poles are generally erected by contractors now, and wire is installed by cablemen, the linemen still exist.

Their work has been made easier through modern conveniences. Rather than climbing poles, for example, linemen are more likely to use a bucket truck or cherry picker for aerial work. They can also mount a buggy on aerial cable to take them across the wire between poles as needed.


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