Why Did the N&W Not Use Aerial Cable ?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Apr 23 20:06:21 EDT 2013

There probably is no answer for the following question, so I throw it out just as an heuristic item...

It is obvious that the N&W did a complete rebuild of its pole lines at the time CTC came around in the 1940s. (Witness the fact that I never saw any insulators older than the 1940s on Main Line pole line.) So I am wondering why they did not just hang lead-sheathed cable on the poles at the time of the big rebuild, and eliminate thousands of tons of line wire, thousands of cross arms, and box cars full of insulators? One cable could have carried both the signal circuits and the communications circuits.

Cable came into railroad use about 1910, with the construction of the line across "the Jersey Meadows," under the Hudson River and into Penn Station New York. By the 1930s it was marketed in 50-conductor, 100-conductor, 200-conductor and even 500-conductor versions. For the N&W, the capital cost of going with cable would without doubt have been less than the cost of all the wire and cross arms, and maintenance costs would have been dramatically less.

One wonders why the N&W made the decision it made. ..

-- abram burnett

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