Ice on the lines "It's night and a steady rain is falling. The early winter air is just cold enough to freeze the drops wherever they land as gradually overburdened trees fill the darkness with a creaking and brittle clatter. By morning, a clearing wind increases the noisy breakage over a landscape of glittering ice. Everything--fields, fences, roads the tortured trees, sagging power and telephone lines--is encased in the brilliant glaze, at once beautiful and ruinous.

"Movement through this crystalline world is difficult, but the first to venture out are telephone maintenance men, for open wire must inevitably snap under weights of ice that split large tree limbs. The damage is surveyed in any way it can be--by car, on foot, by airplane. Location and number of wire breaks and downed poles are reported to storm headquarters. Orders rush out for materials and manpower. Temporary garages must be set up to receive and distribute these supplies, while hotels and eating places are contacted to prepare for an influx of hundreds of construction men. Then, the moment roads become passable and power line hazards are removed, line crews move into the damaged area and work begins."

(from NWB Magazine, January 1954)


Some say that ice and sleet have caused more damage to telephone poles and lines than any other agent. Certainly in the Midwest states that comprised northwestern Bell's territory, freezing rain is frequent, fierce and destructive to plant. Here are images of a few such storms in our mid-west states:




1886 - Fairfield, IA (THG file photo, photographer E.A. Meyer)
1924 - Bennington, NE (THG file photo, photographer, Robert Dempsey)



1941 - West of Omaha, NE - storm caused $195, 000 damage to plant in Iowa and Nebraska. 2,950 poles broken, 6,400 leaning, 800 crossarms broken, 3,200 broken drop wires and 8,200 phones out of service. (from NWB Magazine, December 1941)
1945 - Fort Madison, Iowa (THG file photo)
1947 - Minneapolis-Fargo Toll Lead, Highway 52 between Elk River and Big Lake, MN. (THG file photo)



1951 - Minneapolis-Mankato Toll Line W.E. Briggs (r.) - construction foreman, Waterloo, IA - and S.S. Cave - crew foreman, Idaho Falls - plan repairs to lines between Le Sueur, MN and St. Peter, IA. (THG file photo, photographer Williams)
1951 - Minneapolis-Mankato Toll Line, rural lead in immediate foreground. (THG file photo, photographer Williams)



1951 -LeSueur, MN - along highway 169. (THG file photo, photographer Williams)
1954 - Sioux Falls, SD (THG file photo, photographer Bill Pay)
Lineman - outstanding in his field. (THG file photo)
AT&T advertisement (NWB magazine, December 1929)




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PICTURED: (above, beginning of article) Ice is a great hazard in many parts of the midwest (THG file photo).