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
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
While linemen usually worked during the day, they put in a lot of
overtime repairing downed poles and wires after each major storm.
Upon 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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Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved