The Ins and Outs of Power Poles

Story and photos by Rodger Nichols

Different-sized transformers are used according to the service requirements; in this case, a three-phase service.

Have you ever wondered what the strange shapes on and near power poles are?

Even though Northern Wasco County PUD owns and maintains the poles, not everything on a pole belongs to the PUD. Some items belong to phone and internet providers.

The first poles to sprout in The Dalles weren’t power poles. Oregon Steam Navigation Co., founded in 1860, built a major telegraph project that connected Portland to The Dalles in 1873.

Electricity first came to The Dalles in July 1888, when the private The Dalles Electric Light Co. built a wood-burning power generation plant at Seventh and Union streets.

The first telephone line in The Dalles connected the Umatilla House hotel to The Dalles fire department and the department’s shops. It was installed in 1891. Several other individual lines were installed, but the town didn’t get an interconnected system with multiple users until 1894.

Cable TV came to The Dalles in 1954. It was the second system in the state behind a system in Astoria that was the first in the nation.

Keep Power Poles Clear

When the PUD asks you not to attach anything to a power pole, it is not just trying to avoid a bunch of visually tacky notices. There is a real safety concern.

Staples, nails, or tacks used to attach a flyer to a pole can remain embedded even after the flyer is removed. Those remnants can be dangerous to a lineman climbing the pole with his spiked boots.

And yes, linemen still climb poles. There are many places inaccessible to bucket lifts.