Last updated November 5, 2007


I.D. Numbers

Name Tags

WME Co. Poles

In my area, the electric company name on the poles is W.M.E. Co. and the telephone company name on them (in most cases) is NET&T Co. Of my knowledge, the following nearby towns also have both of the same company names on them: Amherst; Bernardston; Deerfield; Easthampton; Erving; Gill; Greenfield; Leverett; Northfield; Shelburne; Southampton; and Sunderland.

ME Co. Poles

The electric company name is different for Granby; Northampton; and Shutesbury: ME Co. This electric company apparently used sans serif metal numbers for a number of years; this is especially evident on the poles in Shutesbury. The numbers that ME Co. currently uses are like what WME Co. uses, only about twice as big.

Shutesbury's Old Electric Companies

Shutesbury's local electric company was named "GEL Co.," as indicated by some of the metal name tags still on some of the older poles in that area.

I saw yet another electric name on a few old poles in Shutesbury. I believe it was "WCE Co."

South Hadley's Electric Company

South Hadley's electric company name tags on the poles read "SHELD"; I saw a couple of older ones where they read "SH-ELD."

Granby's Own Telephone Company

Surprisingly, Granby is affiliated with a different phone company instead of Bell Atlantic. They seem to have their own local phone company.

New Hampshire's Tags

During the same New Hampshire trip mentioned above in the Colors section, I noticed that the electric company name tags are round or oval-shaped (didn't remember which shape already, soon after).

During more recent New Hampshire trips, looking at the electric company name tags further (at least in Winchester), there are both round and oval-shaped tags. The round ones are older, while the oval ones are newer. The oval ones look more streamlined and just say "PSNH" on them. The older and round name tags say what those initials stand for: Public Service of New Hampshire. Also, there is an image of a torch on the round tag (with the top and bottom edges of the torch going a bit beyond the circle shape), as well as a ring shape going around the edges of the circle shape.

Connecticut Name Tags

Name tags in at least some parts of Connecticut are oval-shaped as well.

The Telephone Company Name Tags in Massachusetts

Until the mid-1990's, the telephone company name hammered on the utility poles (at least where I'm from) said "NET&T Co." When New England Telephone merged with a telephone company in New York about 1995, they became NYNEX, and a new set of numbers began to be used. The silvery sans serif metal numbers and letters that had been used for years were replaced with ones that are black with orange background that slide into a silvery colored long piece. These numbers probably began to be used by 1995. In 1998, they began to say "Bell Atlantic" because of yet another merger. By late 2000, another merger took place, and in April 2001, the tags began to read "Verizon." However, on a few occasions, instead of the Verizon logo, there would be "V" above "Z" instead. These name tags are noticeably thicker, and are also now more commonly used. More recently, at least since 2005, I noticed that the appearance of the number "1" began to be more of the serif sort.

The WME Co. Name Tags

WME Co.'s metal tag remains the same, except that the periods were dropped in recent years, with the "WME" letters appearing closer together.

The newer look of the ME Co. name tags have changed as well; they look just like the new WME Co. name tags, only without the "W."

Many years ago, the "W.M.E. Co." tag was bigger in size, with bigger lettering. This is evident after finding such tags on three very old poles (two in Turners, as well as one each in Greenfield, Deerfield, and Northfield).

In some cases, the "W.M.E. Co." tag can be higher than necessary over the ID number. My guess is that so there would be enough room for the sequence number above the ID number. It may also have to do with the tags being made bigger years ago.
Name tag up higher than necessary.

Cable Company Name Tags

On the aforementioned two poles erected by the cable company, they bear the name of Media One, which was the local cable company at the time. The ID numbers are of the same appearance as the telephone company ID numbers, only with a yellow background rather than orange. These two poles are both numbered "1."


Twice As Big

The electric company numbers and letters in Orange, Athol, Granby, and parts of Erving are in that twice-as-big size as well. These towns, as well as Wendell, in most cases, also have ME Co. as their local electric company.

One And A Half Times As Big

At least some parts of Vermont, as well as South Hadley, have electric company numbers between the WME and ME sizes; they are about one and a half times as big as the WME numbers.

Connecticut ID Numbers

At least some parts of Connecticut mostly uses sans serif numbers, which are usually placed in vertical formation, but could also be placed diagonally in certain cases. There are also certain cases in which medium-sized serif numbers had been used.

Granby's Telephone Company Numbers

Granby's newer numbers even look different from Bell Atlantic's. Granby's phone company numbers are orange and black like the Bell Atlantic ones, only they go vertical instead.

Mixture Of Serif And Sans Serif Numbers Of Local Telephone Company

In later years of the local telephone company using the sans serif silvery colored numbers (mid-1980's until circa 1995), they were mixed with the serif ones used by the electric company.

Changes Of Telephone Company Numbers Over The Years

The looks of the telephone company metal numbers made subtle changes over the years. The most noticeable change is that of the number "3"; in earlier years, the top of the number was flat and more angular looking, while the bottom part appeared a little bigger and rounder.

Perhaps the next-to-most noticeable change is that of the number "8"; the spaces in the "8" were more rounded, with the top of the number even smaller and the bottom even bigger. (The letter "B" seems to have evolved in a very similar way as the "8.")

The third most noticeable is probably the "5"; in its very early years, the bottom part of the number was noticeably more rounded and up a little higher in relation to the rest of it, with the top part of the number a little shorter with the nail hole seemingly a bit more to the right.

Meanwhile, during those many years, the looks of the electric company metal numbers pretty much remained the same.

My guess as to when the sans serif "3" (used by the telephone company) was redesigned in such a way that it was no longer flat at the top is about 1932 or 1933, and likewise with the "8" and its design, as well as some of the other numbers, such as the "5," although a 1936 pole with a flat-topped "3" nailed on it seems to suggest otherwise.

The nails used on these numbers also seem to have been different in these very early years; the heads were bigger but flatter.

Shutesbury's Old Electric Company Numbers

The metal numbers that Shutesbury's electric company used years ago look much like those that NET&T Co. used many years ago, such as the flat top "3" and the wide mouth "8."

Old New Hampshire ID Numbers

The metal numbers that Public Service of New Hampshire used for many years are also sans serif.

Old Telephone Company Number Tags

It is apparent that little tags with the telephone company numbers stamped on them were used many years ago, as indicated by a few very old poles.

The ID Numbers At Hampton Beach

There are some rather different-looking ID numbers in and near the Hampton Beach (New Hampshire) area: they are rectangular and about three inches tall; the numbers are black with a yellow background. (The Hampton Beach poles also have these four- or five-digit serif numbers in a vertical arrangement; these numbers are the very same type that WME Co. uses.)

Route Numbers

How Many Of These Numbers

In addition to a chronological order of numbers, there is/are also the same number(s) that appear(s) above them. The electric company usually has only one such number, while the telephone company can have as many as three of these.

When They Appeared

This/these same number(s) above usually appear(s) on pole number 1 in an order, then appear on those poles whose number is divisible by 5.

It is possible that, years ago, these numbers more often appeared on the first pole across from a previous pole than they do today. This pattern, if it ever existed, became less consistent through the years as old poles got replaced.

Skipping A Number

Now and then, a number can get skipped in a sequence. For instance, among a line of telephone company poles just north of the center of Lake Pleasant, the number 13 is one of the numbers skipped. Could be superstition, but I say coincidence.

Same Route Number Appearing More Than Once

The same sequence number can actually appear on more than one street or road, although not within the same town. For example, I actually know of as many as three sequence 19s.

Telephone Company Numbers' Formats

At least in the case of telephone company sequence numbers, they can appear in a different format for each town. For example, the telephone company number sequence seems to be 22 then a second number in the village of Montague Center in the town of Montague.

Route Numbers Based On Alphabet Order Of Streets

I found out something very interesting and fascinating about the electric company sequence numbers while putting various pictures in photo albums. From the town of Montague, I noticed that Maple Street (in Turners Falls) has sequence 124, while Marshall Street (also in Turners Falls) has sequence 126. This got me thinking that the sequence numbers they were given may be based on street alphabetical order, which happens to be the order that I am putting the pictures in. I looked through all the sections of Turners Falls pictures, and definitely noticed the pattern: the later a street name is alphabetically, the higher the sequence number. I decided to check the Greenfield pictures to see if the pattern applies there as well; it does. So far, however, I haven't seen such a pattern with the telephone company sequence numbers.

Corresponding With Streets

The sequences of the electric company numbers seem to correspond with the streets that they are on, and don't continue onto another street. (That is, the way the streets were named at the time that the sequence numbers were assigned.) In addition, the sequences can actually continue even if there are no poles on that particular street at some point.

Telephone Company Numbers Don't Correspond With Streets As Much

The telephone company numbers, however, seem to be otherwise. They can continue to the next available street, and possibly seldom continue when there are no more poles at some point.

No Route Numbers On ME Co. Poles

I notice that Massachusetts Electric Company (which provides service to such towns as Shutesbury and Northampton) doesn't seem to put sequence numbers on poles, like Western Massachusetts Electric Company does.

Hampton Beach Electric Poles Use Route Numbers

There are apparently route numbers used by other electric companies besides WME Co. Such is the case of the electric company that serves the Hampton Beach area and neighboring towns. Not only that, but the correspondence of streets (including alphabetical pattern) applies here as well. The Hampton Beach area has single-letter-named streets. Walking by them in backwards alphabetical order, the route numbers get smaller. As I figured, A Street is assigned the number 1; it is displayed in two-digit format (01).


Different Letters On Poles

I've seen certain metal letters appear on utility poles:

More Common

'T' Equals 'AMPS'? 

Less Common

In early 2004, I saw a first: a pole with electric company lettering on it that says, "A/B TEMP". This pole is in Greenfield, the last one on Silver Street on the Conway Street end.

ABC In Florence

In or near Florence, I saw a pole with an "ABC" combination on it, in two places. These were in large-sized letters.

Other Tags


Old AMPS tags from WME Co. are bigger in size, much like how the old WME Co. tags are. However, I have seen an AMPS tag on an older pole in the Hampton Beach (New Hampshire) area; it is considerably smaller in size, more like the size of the name tags that WME Co. has been using for years, as well as those name tags of NET&T Co. that stopped being used about 1995 when the company became NYNEX (eventually becoming Bell Atlantic about 1997).

Other Tags

Other such type of tags that I've seen say:


In general, the ID numbers are usually most likely made out of aluminum. But there are certain exceptions.

Unusual Resources

In much earlier years, the metal numbers, letters, and company name tags seem to have been made out of more corrosive metal. Certain ones seem to have turned green and/or more brittle over the years.

There are also certain metal numbers that appear to be unusually shiny.

I have also seen certain metal numbers that appear brown in color as if they have rusted, which they probably have over the years.

I am guessing that the ID numbers and tags that appear rusted or corroded may have been made during World War II, thus possibly made out of different material than what was ordinarily used. This mostly seems to apply to the telephone company numbers and tags.


Replacing Old ID Numbers

Now and then, a utility company decides to hammer up new numbers in place of any that are in bad condition or missing. This is more likely to occur when some upgrading with crossarms, wiring, etc. takes place on a given street.