Most Old Ones Are From 1956 through 1960
Many old poles dating at least as far back as the early 1940's have round tags near the bottom of them that say "Osmoplastic" and date from 1956 to 1960.
Many of these old tags that I have seen are dated 1959. The years 1957 and 1960 I have only occasionally seen. I have seen one dated 1958, but on a former pole.
Most 1958 Osmoplastic Tags Seem To Be From Greenfield
I recently found out about another pole with an Osmoplastic tag dated 1958. It is located at the High/Maple intersection of Greenfield, and begins the "97A" telephone company sequence. (This pole is in the process of being replaced.)
I found three more poles with a 1958 Osmoplastic tag. All of these are also in Greenfield -- two located on East Cleveland Street, and one that used to be located at the Deerfield Street end of Cheapside Street.
I have found still more poles with a 1958 inspection tag. All of these are located in Greenfield.
I saw several old poles in Amherst bearing the date 1958 on their Osmoplastic inspection tags as well.
Millers Falls has several poles with a 1957 inspection tag.
One day, I discovered that a surviving old pole in Leverett has a 1956 Osmoplastic tag. A couple of days later, I decided to check another surviving old pole nearby, as well as several cut short replaced poles near the Amherst/Leverett town line on the same road. I was not surprised to find out that all of these have a 1956 Osmoplastic tag on them as well (though there was one that I did not check because of its location). I am guessing that during this particular year, Osmoplastic must have done extensive inspection of older poles on this road that goes through Leverett and Amherst.
Regarding the dates of these inspection tags, I have noticed a pattern: the ones inspecting the poles probably cover certain areas in a given year.
An interesting thing to point out about the dates of these older Osmoplastic tags: 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960 are also the years of birth of each older sibling of mine. However, 1956 isn't one of those years, but is the year that my parents got married.
When I first noticed these old tags on the poles over twenty years ago, I thought they represented the dates that the poles were manufactured -- until I began to pay attention to the engrave marks more.
In 1979, new tags that say "Osmose" were placed on poles that were at least ten to fifteen years old. In addition to 1979, other dates that I know of that are on these "Osmose" ones: 1981, 1984, 1985, and 1987.
I have seen a few train track poles with an "Osmose" tag dated 1973.
In at least one case, the tag was up several feet, at the same level that ID numbers would otherwise be.
I saw a few Osmose tags that are oval-shaped instead of the usual round shape.
It was about 1979 that I saw exactly what the "Osmose" taggers do. They dig the ground up around the pole and wrap what looks like black plastic around the poles at ground level.
Another preservation method (besides the plastic-wrap method mentioned on your site) is to drill a couple holes around the bottom of the pole, going deep into the pole, then pumping creosote or some other perservative into the holes. The utility workers will then screw black plastic plugs into the holes (probably to keep the preservative in, and bugs out).]klightfo
These tags may not be inspection tags after all. The tags represent the year that the poles were treated with the plastic around the bottom, actually.
Other names I saw on tags and their dates: "Asplundh" (usually dated about 1989) and "Woodfume" (oval-shaped tag usually dated from around 1987, as well as undated quarter-circle shaped ones that are usually with another one of the tags mentioned here).
One pole that I saw in Winchester, New Hampshire, has an inspection tag bearing the name "Osmoband" and the date 1977.
Poles holding up only telephone wires seem to get inspected less often.
There are a couple of things that I've seen on some old and middle-aged poles. One is a round-sided piece of wood that appears as if it had been put in diagonally; the other is a nail sticking out near the bottom of a pole. I see the former more often. I am guessing that these may have something to do with the inspection of a pole.
I also saw old poles from many years ago with little brown tags having two-digit numbers. Most of these poles I have seen with such tags are in Shutesbury, many of which have the number "29" on them. I am guessing that this represents the year 1929, as either the year of manufacturing of these poles or a year that these poles were inspected. If it is the latter, then these poles probably date as far back as the very early part of the century. Even though the surface of these poles are not that rough, I was not able to find engrave marks on them, although the gable roof on them and the gains (which I had called crossarm slots) give clues to their age.
At least two or three of the aforementioned poles located on and near Route 2 in Erving have date nails. I am guessing now that these date nails must represent the year of erection. For the first time, I noticed such poles with both engrave marks and date nails. One pole is dated 1937 on its engrave marks, with two date nails ("35" and "37"); another pole is likely dated 1935 on its engrave marks (since one that follows it going east is dated 1935) and has a date nail with "35."
I saw about three or four poles on Damon Road in Northampton that have two date nails on each one. The numbers on them are 35 (for height) and 40 (for year). The numbers were stamped out for 35 and stamped in for 40. The 40 nails are also square-shaped, while the 35 ones are round.
I have also seen a couple of date tags that may be variations of the date nails, only they have a name of a company on them: one of these such tags is in Turners Falls; the other from a pole in Greenfield that is now gone.
I was always curious as to what the square red tags with the arrows represented. These are called "no climb tags." The one with just an arrow means that a pole can be climbed, but care is needed; the one with the arrow with an "X" means that the pole should not be climbed; the one with the arrow with an "X" in a circle means that the pole should not be climbed and needs to be replaced.
Sometimes these tags are hammered right side up; other times upside down.