UPDATED: JULY 24, 2017


    I have been interested in electrical insulators since I was a kid. This was a close second to my interest in street lights. Since I was already "looking up" to notice the various lights at the time, these also caught my attention as well. I always thought these were really cool looking, especially when sunlight illuminated its clear, green or aqua glass, up on their cross arms. I would eventually find many of these at flea markets, thrift stores and especially walking along the railroad near where I grew up.  

    I lived near the "Summit" of Worcester, MA (north section), behind Quinsigamond Community College. At the front of the college lies W. Boylston St (Rt 12) and the railroad lies across the street from that. This railroad is the former "Worcester/Nashua/Portland" line, where I found some of my first insulators. This railroad runs north from Union Station (downtown Worcester), wye's right at Barbers Crossing, past Nortons, "The Summit", Worcester Country Club, across the Wachusett Reservoir, thru Clinton, Lancaster to its connection to the Fitchburg Line, in Ayer Ma. Look up the Worcester/Nashua/Portland railroad for some great info on its history. 

    Exploring this line was fairly easy since it ran near roadways, near where I lived. The line still has some abandoned telegraph poles that exist along its route, here and there, with some still wearing glassware on its cross arms. There used to be many more back when I started noticing these in the late 70's. Back in the 70's/early 80's, the poles that existed then, used three cross arms (located near the I290/I190 interchange up to the Summit). Along the I290 stretch and some here and there, north up to Ayer, the poles had two cross arms of varying length. The telegraph line was long out of service with all the wires removed. At that time, most poles were cut down and either removed or laid on the side of the right of way (ROW) to decay along long stretches of line north of the Summit. I would rescue many Hemingray 42's and others from these fallen poles during these times of exploration. 

    The Boston & Albany east/west mainline (that comes thru Worcester) used to have an active three tier telegraph line that I scored some insulators from as well. That disappeared around 1991, when Conrail pulled all the poles. 

   I had amassed a sizable amount of duplicates, thru my searches, but have thinned them out so I could have 1 of each variation. I have over 100 examples of insulators, that I have acquired thru the years, from various locations and people. I'll be adding photos of my insulator collection, soon.

    Here is some info on a very unique power line, with interesting variations from then and now. Near where I used to live, there was an old High Tension Power Line that ended at a substation, next to McDonalds, on W. Boylston St, in Worcester's north end. This galvanized tower style was very unique with heavy duty, brown, multi-tiered insulators. It had two sets of three main lines (one set on each side) with a separate wire on the top mast and secondary voltage lines (which were gone at the time) in the middle of the tower. I was told that power used to run down one set and back on the other. This line started in Vernon, Vt at the VT Yankee Power Plant and was built around 1909 (only line to have this tower design anywhere). This "A1B2" line went from the VT plant to Sterling Ma (with a branch at a substation in Fitchburg to the Fitchburg south/west side), then went to a substation in Clinton, then continued into West Boylston, crossed the Wachusett Reservoir and then following the tracks to Worcester's north end. I obtained a huge brown insulator from a contractor that worked on that HTPL route and he gave me the back story on its history. 

    I remember when I used to go to kindergarten (at Burncoat Elementery), I used to check this line out while I walked under them. I was mesmerized at the loud hum that the electricity would emit thru its wires, when it was raining. It even sounded "exciting". When I was older, I would explore this line, on my bike, from the Burncoat St area, down past the Worcester Country Club to near the reservoir (since it paralleled the tracks where I used to find my railroad insulators). I was sad to see the line get disassembled from the Worcester substation to a substation at Rt 140 (south/west of the reservoir) in 1994. It was a piece of my childhood memory disappearing. 

Around 2004/05, there was a new substation built right around that rt 140 site. The line that ran from VT to Sterling and from Sterling to Clinton to the Wachusett Reservoir substation also got upgraded for more power handling capabilities. The VT to Sterling MA section retained the original configuration of the towers, but received upgraded insulators, wiring and bird spikes. Now, with me living in Leominster, near that line, I would hear helicopters running along that route, aiding the linemen with the upgrades. The line from Sterling to the reservoir/Rt 140 substation also got upgraded at the same time except the towers got really modified (with only three main lines now (taking out the second tier masts) with new wiring, insulators, bird spikes and guy wires. Many of these towers also got replaced with towers that look like a pull up bar, located at turning points along the way. The "pull up bar" design didn't appeal to me at all and the modified original towers lost their classic look.

However, the only point in this whole line that mostly retains its originality from 1909 is the Fitchburg branch, that goes to the south/west side of Fitchburg. There are many different variations along this part of the line that are found no where else. Check out the photos and info. Ill be adding more photos to post soon. Enjoy!



This is the end of the line in Fitchburg, at the old substation. 

Her is a view (inside the fence line) of the substation. I tried to get a good photo of the antique street lights that are used on the structure. 

Close up of the last tower.

This is the second to the last tower in this line. This tower got some new insulators but one oldie still remains.

This is the configuration that most of these towers were along the entire system, from VT to Worcester. The previous photos were unique to this  Fitchburg segment. 

Working my way back towards the mainline substation (where this line branches off of). These run right thru residential neighborhoods. 

This is one of a few on this branch that has these extended arms (near Electric Av, Fitchburg). Unknown as to what they were for.

This is where the line meets up with a residential street and parallels it to the substation (going right along peoples front yards!)



Here is where the line literally runs across peoples front yards along the street. Obviously the houses came later.  

A close up of that extended arm on the side of the structure.



This is an oddball configuration. Only one to exist. Must have been a case of using what parts were available at the time. 



As the road curves off to the right, these are the first three towers in this Fitchburg branch. The substation is in the background. 

This is along Rt 2 near a reservoir in Fitchburg. This is located near the Fitchburg branch substation. The view of the line is looking east towards Sterling MA. 


The photos below are from the new Rt 140 substation (near Wachusett Reservoir) in Oct 2008, where the last two original towers were being removed.


This is the last original 1909 tower at the southern end of the "A1B2" line, at Rt 140 (as of Oct 2008). The new substation is on the right. Behind me, prior to 1994, these towers continued on to Worcester's North End.

Some insulator strings removed from the tower, lying on the ground. These structures were removed quickly so I never got the chance to recover these insulators in time. I am lucky I got these photos since the towers were gone in no time.

Close up of the partially dismantled tower at Rt 140. This tower almost lasted 100 years.

There were only two remaining original steel towers left at the southern end of this post 1994 line. The towers, after the second one, all the way to the reservoir are wooden structures, then revert back to the original (now modified) 1909 structures. These two were taken down in 2008 since the new substation (just to the right) now connected to the wooden structures just beyond the steel tower in the background.

Side view of the southern most tower in the "AIB2" line (as of 1994 to 2008). Rt 140 (facing west) is on the left. To the left of Rt 140 was a small old substation (that was the end of this line starting in 1994). The line beyond this point (going south) followed the railroad all the way to Worcester, which was removed in the fall of 1994.


These two photos are an example of the 2004/05 modified towers on this A1B2 line.


This is the current look of the A1B2 line, near the Sterling Ma. Substation (view from rt12 looking west, on the Sterling / Leominster border). This configuration consists of upgraded insulators and bird spikes, but retains most of the original 1909 design look. These modified towers go from Vernon, VT to Sterling, MA.

This is the current look of the A1B2 line, that goes from the Sterling Ma substation, thru Clinton, to the Wachusett Reservoir (view from rt 62, looking south-east). This configuration consists of upgraded insulators, bird spikes and guy wires. However, this line loses a set of lines (now 3) as well as the left/right uprights above the horizontal bar. This alters the look of these towers vs the original congig. I prefer the originals.


More photos to come when available