White Paint on Telegraph Poles, Etc.

Discussion in 'Right of Way' started by yardmaster, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Folks -
    A nagging question that I've never really asked, but that hopefully someone with more B&B knowledge than I can answer.

    I've noticed photos over the years (both Frisco and other roads) of telegraph poles, utility poles, etc. with a band of white paint anywhere from 2-3 feet from the ground up.

    Case in point: this photo of Blytheville AR:
    Blytheville, Ark Station

    Crocker, MO, with a very faded layer of paint:
    Crocker, MO

    These always seem to be painted in or near depots or yards. Hence, I've always assumed that it was for visibility purposes so that someone does not walk face-first into a pole on a dark night. However, maybe there are other reason.

    I'm also wondering if there were any B&B standards that stipulated when and where poles would be painted, and generally the dimensions, e.g. how far up from ground level.

    Thanks, in advance.

    Best Regards,
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  2. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I've seen folks paint tree bases white. Bug control?
  3. mvtelegrapher

    mvtelegrapher Member

    The UP painted the poles around the Parsons, Kansas yard about four years ago white so it is still done. It was explained to me that it was for visibility and was a safety issue. Not sure about a standard height above ground level, maybe how tall the guy painting is?

    John Chambers
  4. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2012
  5. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Y'know, now that you mention it, Tom...I can remember seeing the trees in front of my Dad's high school in Delta, MO (junction point for the SL-SF Hoxie Sub, the SSW, and the MoP Iron Mountain Line) with what I guess was whitewash on the trunks. Seems to make perfect sense, now. Perhaps better visibility was a fringe benefit of keeping the critters out of the wood.

    Best Regards,
  6. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    See. You all thought I was crazy:)
  7. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    I grew up in Springfield, Mo and my folks painted the
    Elm trees to keep the worms off.
    Most of the poles I seen painted on the Frisco was Sunshine
    Yellow for safety. To keep trucks from backing into them.
    Bill Jackson
  8. An early-1900s photograph of the KCC&S yard area in Clinton Mo. appears to show a white band around each telegraph pole, somewhere around six to eight feet off the ground. It's a blown-up section from a distant panoramic shot, and it's hard to pick out any more detail than that.

    I seem to recall seeing tree trunks painted white in the vicinity of prisons, also. I presumed that this was to make it people (escaped inmates?) easier to see.
  9. john

    john FRISCO.org Supporter

    I was just looking at a 1914 Frisco blueprint for Mile Marker signs. "Fasten to telegraph pole nearest mile end. Marker should project towards and be at right angles to the center line of track and should be fastened to pole 13' above ground where possible. Telegraph Pole to be white washed from ground line to bottom of mile marker board."

    As for instructions for telegraph pole numbers, "The surface of the telegraph pole for the distance indicated by the dimension "A" to be painted white. The figures to be painted black 5 1/4 inches high with the 1 inch dividing line in black. The white surface above the dividing line will be a variable dimension (1' 3" high for 1 and 2 figures to 2' 4 1/2" for 4 figures). Figures to be painted on every 5th telegraph pole where there are 40 or less per mile and on every tenth pole where there are over 40 poles per mile."
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016

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