telephone poles

PHADRUIG phadruig at
Thu Mar 5 00:51:11 EST 1998

 modems at writes:
>Can someone tell me how and where telephone poles are made,
>from which types of trees, etc?
Some good answers but I am surprised that no one mentioned Western Red Cedar
(thuja plicata).  In the range where it grows, this was formerly a very
important utility pole species.  

The B.J. Carney Co. used to have a large cedar pole manufacturing facility at
Spokane, Washington, as well as at other satilite locations.  Cedar poles were
trucked to those yards from forests in Montana, Idaho, Washington and British
Columbia, and finished poles shipped all over the country.  Cedar, being
natrually rot resistant, the poles were not full length treated, but were
treated only on the butt portion that is set in the ground.

Cedar pole making, i.e. cutting and peeling the "raw" poles in the woods, is an
art in itself.  There are several "classes" of pole, based on taper and top
diameter as well as various lengths, usually from 20 up to 100+ feet - all of
different value. The trick is to produce the most value from a given stand of

My "trick" when logging stands with possible "pole cedar" mixed in, was to
by-pass all the cedar with the initial logging operation, then hire a cedar
pole contractor to come in to develop the poles and residual cedar sawlogs.
Since cedar poles were worth several times as much as cedar sawlogs, to was
important to have a skilled "pole maker" do the job.

A sequel to this story would be why the Carney company closed up shop.  I think
that sources of raw material were getting scarce but it seems, considering the
value of cedar pole timber, that "cedar tree farms" would have been established
- and maybe were, for all I know.
Seumas Mac Phadruig
Industrial Forest Opns. Mgr. (Ret.)
Inland Northwest, USA

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