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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Chesapeake and Potomac: 1922

Chesapeake and Potomac: 1922

Washington, D.C., circa 1922. "Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co." The maintenance shed. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

What's old is new again

I only recognise half of that equipment, the pole chokers, cable clamps, non-conduct poles, pole belts and such, but much of that stuff has gone the way of the dodo, replaced by new tech. I guess in twenty years, my memories will be antiquated and dust heap worthy, but thank you to all the old workers who busted their butts to put us where we are now!

Really interesting

The amazing part of this photo is how much has not changed. Many of these items are still used today. Today's ladders are fibreglass, though.

Well Grounded

The tall thin rods are ground rods. In addition to the wires back to the central office, telephone service required a wire connected to ground for ringing the bell. Using a sledge hammer, the installer would drive the rod into the ground and then connect his circuit to the wire on the rod.


I also see surveyors' poles, hurricane lanterns, pole climbing gear, spades, hammers, chains...

Lineman for the County

What are the "garage door springs" and the tall thin rods with a little spring on the end used for?

Inventory Levels

No wonder the local hardware store has run out of bolt cutters. I never really thought of those as personal equipment.


I puts me in mind of Home Depot or Menards!

'ave a spot o' tea while I fix your phone, Guv?

Ah, for the civilized service calls of yesteryear!


They were cable splicing gear. The bigger pots and the kettles were for asphalt waterproofing compound, the smaller ones were for solder, they were heated on the gasoline stoves hanging on the bottom of the rack.

I see there are also teapots

I see there are also teapots as well as what look to be cooking pots. I wonder if camping skills were required to run and maintain phone lines through remote areas in those days.


That's all pretty analog, by golly.No fiber-optics around that shed. Wonder what those steel pots were for?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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