As an insulator collector, I was largely born too late to see many of the glass pieces that adorn my house up in the air and doing what they were designed for – carrying the power, telephone, and telegraph signals that built our modern world. There are small pockets, though, where a few have survived on the lines and can still be seen and appreciated in the wild. The former Phelps Dodge power system around Bisbee, AZ, is one of those places. These lines, which powered the mines for some 60 years, still have a few of the largest single-piece glass power insulators ever made – the Pyrex 701s.
On my way back from the annual February Yuma Insulator Swap-meet, I decided to detour down through Bisbee and see what remained. Honestly I was surprised. In the nearly 20 years since I’d last been down here, only a few had disappeared. 20 of these big beauties are still up in the air and visible from public property.