Split Ring Forestry Insulator

By Elton Gish; posted September 5, 2004

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Many people are not familiar with how the forestry insulator was used. Forestry insulators are donut shaped and split in half. There are 8-10 different styles. The first one was patented in 1889 and sold by the E. S. Greeley & Co. There is only one known (in my collection) with the embossing "VICTOR" // "PAT MAR / 14 89" on each half of the hexagon-shaped donut. The insulators were used to string telegraph or telephone wire through the forest to a fire lookout tower. Each insulator was suspended from a tree limb by a wire wrapped around the outside of the insulator. The line wire was strung loosely inside the donut. This setup allowed the line wire to swing with the movement of the tree limbs. It was an easy and quick way to run line to the lookout towers. This photo was taken in a National Forest in Arkansas in March 1986. Forestry insulators were used extensively from 1910 to about 1940. Many styles are quite common and can be found in white or brown glazes.