I’ve always been fascinated by things that are connected. Before my interest in computers formed, as a young kid I was fascinated by power lines, especially the high-tension wires that criss-crossed their way across the country side, connecting the villages and cities to the power plants in the area. One of my earliest memories of this interest were a set of (what later knew to be) 115 kV lines that paralleled Interstate 81 north of Syracuse, N.Y. The lines in question used towers or supports that did not have four feet firmly planted on the ground, but a single ladder type arrangement. There are variations of this design all over Upstate New York, mostly in the old Niagara-Mohawk service area. In all our travels I’ve never seen this design used in any other state.
On our recent trip to see my family I noticed the towers and lines along this corridor are being replaced. My first thought was that they’re not that old, but then I realized I’m over 50 years old and they’re at least that if not more, so I decided to do a little bit of research.
The lines follow an old railroad line dating to the turn of the 20th century. The power lines appear on surveys as early as 1920, so they’re most likely over 100 years old.
Now I get why National Grid (the current power company) is replacing this little slice of my childhood.
Looking at the photo I hastily snapped while driving on Interstate 81, you’ll notice the new towers (or pylons) are dark brown, taller, and have a bolder impact in the aesthetics of the landscape.
I’m sure they’ll last at least 100 years.
Addendum: I love the Internet. More information on this project is available here.