T&D World Magazine
Linemans Supplement old and new

In the early days of the line trade, linemen worked in large crews without personal protective equipment, hard hats or flame-retardant clothing. Courtesy of Alabama Power

Powering the Past and Electrifying the Future

Veteran linemen reflect on the early days of the line trade and how today’s technology has improved safety and productivity.  

At just 19 years old, Nelson Smith launched his 43-year career in the line trade. Over the decades, the tools, technology and work practices have continuously changed, but he will never forget his first few years in the field — when everything was done by hand.

“We hand dug a lot of holes using A-frame trucks to set the poles,” said Smith, a journeyman lineman for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in Chase City, Virginia. “There were no battery-operated tools at all, and we were

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