First gas-powered trucks
Around 1916, the Marquette Board of Light and Power begin using this Sam-Rich gas-powered truck instead of horse-drawn wagons to haul around its tools.
1930' line crew
Members of the Marquette Board of Light and Power 1930’s line crew included (from left to right) Norman Gustafson, unknown, Nicholas December, Andy Heiser, unknown and Ward Davis.
Early NW Energy linemen perform underground work.
This photo, provided by Hubbell Power Systems, is from an early issue of the company’s long-running “Chance Tips,” a newsletter that AB Chance provides to its customers.
This early card certifies that the holder is a member in good standing with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Robert Wright would present this card in union halls as he moved from location to location for line work.
These 10 men founded the Electrical Wiremen and Linemen’s Union in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1890. Their first convention was held in St. Louis on Nov. 21, 1891. At this event, the precursor to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — then known as the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (NBEW) — was officially formed.
Line work in the early days was predominantly manual labor, but not just for linemen. This horse-drawn cart was used to move line materials to the work site. The person wearing the vest was probably the supervisor.
Tools of the Trade
Tools of the trade include a strong back, a pole jib, pikes, climbing spikes, pole gaffs, rope and blocks. You can see some of the early tools at the International Lineman’s Museum in Shelby, North Carolina.
Linemen work to remove hardware from damaged pole prior to setting new pole. Notice dual insulators per phase and the line truck in background.
All in a Day's Work
All in a day’s work. Linemen get ready to set a pole by hand. This method is still commonly used in many parts of the world. A stringing block is evident at the top of the pole, and the pole has been guyed off and is being held up off the ground by a rod.
Different working conditions existed back in the day. Notice the lineman smoking a pipe. A tool belt is visible on one lineman, and both linemen are wearing hats (though soft not hard) as they change out a crossarm.
The First Bucket Trucks
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. These linemen are manning one of the first “bucket trucks” as they work from a platform mounted on the back of a horse-drawn carriage.
Designed for Line Work
This truck was obviously designed for line work, based on the tool bins and racks to carry materials. The water cooler is also visible.
Early systems put in with functionality in mind. A mishmash of services arise as one can see a water tower, power lines and rail lines in this busy photograph.