Brooks insulator found in an SPRR tunnel in Oregon
It seems likely from your description that you have a 19th century Brooks telegraph insulator, and have misread the year as 1861 (it actually says 1867). The word that you can't read is "patent." It should look like the pictures on the Brooks insulator page. What you are calling porcelain is actually either the glass part of the insulator or the sulfur used to hold it together. The metal rod has a metal ramshorn shaped end (if the insulator is intact with no missing parts) which holds the telegraph wire. It isn't an insulator that was used underground. Somehow the insulator fell off the underside of the wooden support to which it was attached, or was discarded and was left on the ground where it may have become partially buried until it was found by your husband's father. When it was attached, it would have looked like the picture of the Brooks Insulators in a Yardarm.
Interesting to learn that Brooks insulators were used in Oregon. These insulators are rather rare.
On Feb 20, 2005, at 11:42 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
thank you for the quick response. this is all i know about the underground electric insulator. my husbands father was a worker for the southern pacific railroad. he was fighting a tunnel fire in oregon (i'm not sure what town) and they found this insulator in the tunnel in the ground.
it has a metal jacket with porcelain in the center with a ground rod
going down the center. on the bottom it says:
august 6, 1861
his father was given a keychain that has the following inscription on
royal order accredited smoke tasters and eaters
reedsport, tunnel # 19 (either 19 or 16 but i'm sure it's 19)
1-30 to 2-8 1975
hope this can shed some light on what kind of insulator it is and any other information you can find would be GREATLY appreciated.
his father gave it to him and he has kept it in a special place for all these years not really knowing all that much about it except where it was found.
sorry i can't send a picture but this internet thing is new to me and havent figured out how to send pictures just yet. thanks again. yolanda bour
From: Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum
Subject: Re: information and pictures ["1861 CPRR underground electric insulator"]
Thanks for your question. Not sure what you mean by an "underground electric insulator." Please explain – do you mean an insulator that was found buried in the ground? Where? Is it glass or metal? Color? Is there any writing on the insulator?
The only insulators from the 1860's relating to the Central Pacific Railroad that we know of were used for the above ground telegraph line accompanying the railroad. The CPRR used metal 1867 Brooks Patent Insulators (rams horn type) which have glass inserts and fit into a hole on the underside of the telegraph pole wooden cross-piece.
The Central Pacific Railroad did not exist in 1861. The Pacific Railroad Act was not even signed by Lincoln until 1862.
The first transcontinental telegraph (not the later one along the transcontinental railroad) was completed in 1861, putting the Pony Express out of business, but we don't have information regarding what insulators were used.
Can you supply any additional information about what you have, where it was found, and e-mail us a photograph of your insulator?
On Feb 19, 2005, at 4:15 PM, email@example.com wrote:
we looked up your information on the internet and were looking for pictures of an underground electric insulator from central pacific railroad dated 1861. we have an underground electric insulator from the pacific central railroad dated august 1861 and just wanted a point of reference. so how would we go about getting a picture of one? any help would be most appreciated. thank you, yolanda bour