Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

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pcg
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Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by pcg » October 22nd, 2016, 1:48 pm

The year after the Dollar Fire I hiked up the burned-out draw to the west of Vista Ridge and found a lot of old copper wire (12 ga. ?), strung out along the ground and running along the fall line like an old phone line. I coiled up and packed out a couple hundred feet of remnants. I'm not aware of any lookout or other bldg that would explain this. Any ideas?

RobFromRedland
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by RobFromRedland » October 23rd, 2016, 6:25 am

That is very common once you know where to look for it. That was the Forest Service's phone system. You can see it on old maps - the route the phone line took. The old maps showed dots where the phone line went. I took a look at the '38 map and also the '46 map and both show a line going up the Vista Ridge trail - it doesn't look like it went farther than the trail junction near Eden park, but it definitely shows a phone line going up that way.

Here is a the snippet where you can see the phone line (dots on either side of the trail).
1946MtHoodMapSnippet.jpg
1946 Map Snippet
One went to Tilly Jane and Cloud Cap Inn as well as several guard stations in the area. I believe that pretty much all guard stations and all lookouts had a phone in those days - that was their only method of communication.

An interesting anecdote - A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting with a family that had lived at the old Oak Grove Work Center back in the 60's. They said that when the power lines came thru the area, their radios didn't work too well due to the electrical interference, so many of them went back to the old, ancient forest service phones for a lot of stuff - they were not affected by the interference. Sometimes newer is not better.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

pcg
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by pcg » October 23rd, 2016, 11:59 am

Fantastic! Thanks for solving this mystery. Where do you find old forest service maps?

RobFromRedland
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by RobFromRedland » October 23rd, 2016, 7:04 pm

You can find historical topo maps in many places. I would start here:

http://historicalmaps.arcgis.com/usgs/

There are also a variety of scans of old maps and tools on the trailadvocate.org website, although those are primarily in the Clackamas district, however there are some that cover the entire Mt Hood NF.

https://www.trailadvocate.org/historicalmaps/

The University of Oregon library has a great historical map collection - many of the maps from the trailadvocate.org site were scanned from that collection.

I'm sure others can pipe in with other historical map sources.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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CampinCarl
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by CampinCarl » October 24th, 2016, 9:00 am


pcg
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by pcg » October 27th, 2016, 3:40 pm

Excerpt from “Elers Koch: Forty Years a Forester”…

In the summer of 1907 I got the first allotments for trail and telephone construction… There is now [book was written in 1949] a network of telephone lines all over the national forests, and telephoning is commonplace… Even radio communication is now becoming so commonplace that perhaps sometime most of our telephone lines through the hills will be abandoned.”

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Splintercat
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by Splintercat » January 1st, 2017, 10:35 am

You can still follow sections of that phone line along the Old Vista Ridge trail (plus a few insulators in trees). I view these as part of forest history, so would ask that people leave old cables in place, even when they're on the ground -- unless they're a tripping hazard, I suppose.

Tom

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VanMarmot
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by VanMarmot » January 1st, 2017, 11:40 am

Copper? That's interesting. Must have been a special line or something installed more recently. The most common type of early (pre-WW2) USFS phone line was 9 gauge galvanized iron wire. This is the type I usually find associated with those old ceramic insulators.

Per the 1915 "Telephone Construction and Maintenance on the National forests. Instructions for Forest Officers":

A one-wire line (grounded circuit) of No. 9 B. W. G.2 Best-Best galvanized-iron wire will be the standard construction on the National Forests. No other method should be used unless the permission of the district forester is first obtained.

Copper wire is of particular value where unusual construction is required, such as on very important trunk lines, on lines over 125 miles in length, on metallic circuits, etc.

An interesting history factoid is that Dog Mountain is one of the places the USFS made its first test of radio communications, in the 1930s.

Dog Mountain was the site of a temporary lookout position for a vast expanse of Forest parallel to the Columbia River Highway. It had no telephone. Because of its importance and its proximity to public use, this stretch of Forest had a high fire danger during the summer months. For these reasons, Supervisor John R. Bruckart and Beatty had concluded that Dog Mountain would be an ideal location to test the SP-1930 [portable radio] in a fixedbase situation, since the stringing of an emergency telephone line was estimated to be a 3-day job for three men and a pack string.
Boots on the Trail (vanmarmot.org)

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Splintercat
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Re: Old telephone/telegraph wire on Vista Ridge Trail

Post by Splintercat » January 1st, 2017, 7:31 pm

If I'm not mistaken, this is the wire in question:

Image

I photographed this along the Vista Ridge Trail in July 2012. And yes, I do photograph pretty much everything...

Tom :)

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