From the mid-1960's on, many utility poles have been bearing the Koppers name on them.
Before the late 1940's, Koppers's name appeared in the middle of the branding below the date instead of at the top above the date. There were also no references to type of tree and treatment. Thirdly, the class and height numbers were in reverse order. There is such a Koppers pole in Greenfield dated 1944. A pole in Montague Center also has the Koppers name in the middle. I know that the pole is from the 1940's, since I can make out a "4" in the date. The second number is more difficult to make out, but looking at the branding again, it looks like it may be a "1," making the pole possibly dated 1941. In the Hampton Beach (of New Hampshire) area, there is a Koppers pole dated 1946; the name is in the middle of the branding on this pole as well.
I would say that the cutoff year for the arrangement of information on the Koppers poles is 1947. I recall seeing 1947 Koppers poles located at Mount Toby, with the "Koppers" name in the middle. However, I saw a 1947 Koppers pole located in Greenfield. On this pole, the arrangement of numbers and letters are the same as it has been for years -- with the Koppers name on top. There is an out-of-service Koppers pole in the Hampton Beach area dated 1949; the name is at the top on this one.
From 1967 to 1970, the Koppers branding was occasionally designed in such a way that the name lettering formed an upper arch shape, while the species of tree and type of treatment lettering formed a lower arch shape; together, this formed a doughnut shape. The letter combination and date both appeared inside this doughnut shape, while the height and class numbers appeared below it. All of the lettering was smaller than usual, except for the height and class numbers, which were in a completely different typeface than usual and with the height listed first instead of the class.
There were certain Koppers poles before 1988, instead of bearing a two-letter combination, bears a one- or two-digit number right before the year. These same poles also usually seem to have an "8" following "C" in the next line. Some of these poles date back to 1969.
In 1988, Koppers began using a new typeset of lettering in 1988, at least on the CCA treated poles erected by Western Massachusetts Electric Company. At the same time that the Koppers typeset changed, a new arrangement of numbers began to appear in front of the year numbers, usually with a hyphen between these two arrangement of numbers. From noticing the pattern, I would have to guess that these new numbers probably represent the month.
There are actually some, if not a great deal of, Koppers poles dated 1988 through 1990 that are in the facetype that Koppers used for years. These ones, of course, do not include the month number. (Perhaps these poles may have been erected by the telephone company. I am guessing this because I have seen at least one such pole on Greenfield Road in Montague Center that was holding up only telephone wires.)
Since fall 1999, Koppers began using yet another new facetype, in which the letters and numbers appear larger and less rounded. Then in 2003, the Koppers poles began to say just plain "KOP." The letter typeface is somewhat similar to what has been used since the late 1980's.
I have also seen a few poles on occasion that bear a Mereduc name. The Mereduc logo on these poles is in serif lettering, with an image of a flying duck. Mereduc has been in existence much longer than I had originally thought. One day, I was looking at some shorter poles, and can recognize the Mereduc logo on three of them, although the branding is very faded on these. I know that these poles have been around for a long time; I am guessing that they date back to the 1950's.
At first, I thought that this preservation company's name was called Meredug. Eventually, however, the thought occurred to me about this preservation company's name: since it has an image of a duck as part of its logo, I was probably getting the name wrong. The "C" at the end of the name looks a bit more like a "G" because the bottom part of the letter looks a bit lengthy.
I notice, that on at least a few poles manufactured in late 2001 and 2002, the typeface of the information is the same as what Koppers has used more recently. On a pole dated 2003, there are some sort of mixed fonts. The "3" in "03" seems to look different as compared to the rest of the date. The "3" has a flat top, and appearing to be a font that Mereduc previously used. On some poles dated late 2005 and early 2006, a mixture of lettering that Mereduc has is the bigger appearance of the "P"'s in the "SP" for Southern Pine and "PA" for Penta. The "S" in "SP" was also printed upside down. Also, one pole that was erected at the same time as these poles has a different font, more angular looking. One of the other poles also seems to have lettering that says, "Kd" above the rest of the brandings.
I have a more educated guess as to what "P&H" stand for on some of the old poles. I have seen some such poles with the name "Pentrex" and a few others with a "Hale" name. I am guessing that "P&H" may stand for "Pentrex & Hale." (I eventually found out that it stands for "Page & Hill.")
In Amherst, I saw a pole or two with the "P&H" name as new as the early 1960's. These poles have a similar surface to those of the old grayed ones, only these ones are yellow/orange in color. Also, these poles are of class 2 and 60 feet high. These have to be of heavy duty quality, since there is a bridge that goes over the road, and that the wires have to go over that bridge.
The "TC" logo, for years, has always looked as if it forms a shape of a circle, though the looks of the brandings had changed over the years. It looked the same in 1936 and 1937, but changed in 1938 and again by 1941. The brandings had looked different still in the early 1960's.
For the first time, I saw a TC pole dating from the 1950's (although it is in the process of being replaced). It is dated 1951, and is from the Florence/Northampton area.
On the aforementioned new poles in South Hadley, the preservation company's logo on these looks like an "A" with a tiny "S" in it. Poles erected by the local cable company also have (that I recall) a letter "A" with a tiny "S." I only know of two such poles in the area — one in Montague Center at the end of Route 47, and one in Deerfield just off Routes 5 and 10, not too far from a butterfly place called Magic Wings.
On a few old and grayed poles, I saw a 4-sided shape that has shorter and straighter sides, and longer and curvier top and bottom facing away from each other, with a manufacturer's name and the date appearing within. On one such pole, I can make out the name "Gillis" as part of that manufacturer's name.
Some old, grayed poles that I've seen bear the Pentrex name, some of which occasionally have the name "Naugle" on them as well.
I saw at least one Century brand pole with the word "Norway" at the bottom of the branding.
I have finally seen a few utility poles dated 1976. A couple of them are in Greenfield; both are orange in color, with one of them treated by Koppers. Another one I saw is in Turners Falls, which is a brown Koppers one with thinner fonts. I also know of one such pole in my Montague Center area; this one is also a brown colored Koppers brand, but with the then-current used typeface.
Not all of the old, grayed poles are dated from the 1930's. In Montague City, I found one dated 1941 (from the branding which I found almost immediately. Very rare for one of these rough-surfaced grayed poles). In contrast, I found one in Greenfield dated as early as 1927 that same day. I also eventually found a few dated 1941 in Northfield and one with that date in Bernardston, as well as a couple dated 1942: one in Turners Falls and another in Amherst. I also know of a couple of push brace poles in Deerfield, as well as several regular poles on Upper Farms Road in Northfield, and some poles getting replaced on Pine Street of the same town, all dated 1928. I also eventually found another 1927 pole, a stub one located in Deerfield. These non-1930's ones, however, are dated rather close to the 1930's (late 1920's, early 1940's).
Some more comments regarding the 1942 gray pole in Turners Falls mentioned directly above: Besides the "P&H" name and the date, I also clearly made out the name "W.M.E. Co." below the rest of the branding, along with what I believe are probably the class and height numbers. I was guessing that an old, grayed pole on Hope Street in Greenfield may also be dated 1942 because of the "W.M.E. Co." name on that one as well. However, I can only make out the "19" part of the date. I have seen at least a few other P&H poles with class, height, and WME name on it as well, such as one in Hadley that has been replaced.
There are even old, grayed poles from the mid and late 1940's. I saw several dated 1946 bearing the name "Pentrex" as well as a few from 1949 bearing the "B.G. Hale" name.
There are a series of old poles near and on Route 2 in the M.E. Co. area of Erving that I had been curious about regarding their age; they have a gable roof and gains for crossarms, but a smoother surface and a medium brown color. I have a great idea as to what their age is now, after making out the date on a couple of them as 1937 and at least one as 1935.
There are also some light brown colored poles with a gable roof in Northampton. On Damon Road, at least one of these poles is dated 1939 (according to the brandings). There are also two date nails on each of these poles, 35 (for height) and 40 (for year).
Several of the poles that appear to be higher-class penta-treated cedar are dated 1967, usually with the MG&G name.
In the older days, the location of the brandings varied among the poles. These marks could be found in a high location or down low, as well as either on the front of the pole, on the back, on the side, or even a three-quarter or one-quarter location. This seems to apply to the rough-surface grayed poles in particular.
Besides P&H and some other branding brands on old, grayed poles, some circa 1980 SWP brand poles also have their brandings in various places. Most of these poles I saw on Conway Street in Greenfield. These poles also have the branding lettering a bigger size.
Gable roof poles dated 1931, with a "C" inside a plaque-like eight-sided shape as a logo, are have their brandings in various locations. Two such poles are located in Greenfield - a stub pole located on Colrain Road in Greenfield, and one regular pole on Church Street. I also recall such a pole on a side road (with a closed bridge) in Hadley.
The location of the brandings seems to be more consistent with the faded brown smooth-surface older poles. At least with the case of those poles with the names "TC" (that have a slant roof), "Century" (that also have a slant roof, but also a gable roof occasionally), and E&R (that have a gable roof), the brandings are on the same side as the gains.
On newer poles, the location of the brandings are more consistent. Usually, they can be found on the side of a pole and about three or four feet high from the ground.
One day, when I saw brand new poles laying down on the ground, I noticed that they had an branding at the bottom as well. Older poles can have an branding at the bottom, too (as I had observed of some such poles after they were pulled out of the ground), but are of unknown meaning. I also saw a new Mereduc pole laying down on the ground with a bit of information engraved at the bottom, but it mostly had the class and height of the pole.
I found out that this pole that I saw laying on the ground is not a Mereduc pole. It has a logo that shows a small "S" inside a larger "A," which also is the exception to the rule of Verizon's pattern of what they erect for brand name of poles.
In later spring 1999, I saw a newer pole laying down on the ground that also has a round metal tag at the bottom displaying the name of the preservation company, class number, and height number.
In 1999, looking at a pole brand new for that year, then a broken one on the ground besides it, I noticed a metal tag (very similar to old WME and AMPS tags of many years ago) on the bottom of the broken one; the tag read "35FT CL4." This proves what some of the brandings stands for.
Class numbers seem to range from 1 to 7, the most common ones being 3, 4, and 5. Now and then, I see one as a class 2, as well as seeing an occasional one as class 6 or 7, and even seeing a few once in a while as class 1. In spring 1999, I discovered several class 7 ones located at a road just outside the center area of Lake Pleasant. I notice a pattern with these class numbers as well: the lower the number, the more heavy-duty the pole is.
I eventually found a web page that lists the classes of poles; it is located at McFarland Cascade in their Utility Poles and Crossarms section. The classes apparently range from H-6 (most heavy duty) to 7 (least heavy duty), but no class 0; each class is also available in certain heights.
I saw an unusual class number on a few old, grayed Mac-Gillis Gibbs poles in Northfield: 5½ — the only time that I ever saw such a class number. There is at least one such pole in Amherst as well. I found out that there is also such a pole (though a severely cut short one that is gone completely now) in Greenfield, after looking closely at a picture of its brandings. All of these are Mac-Gillis Gibbs poles; over half of them are also in the process of being replaced.
Many of the poles are marked as being either 35 or 40 feet high. I have seen some marked as 30 feet high as well; these are usually used as stub or push brace poles or poles used only by the telephone company. I have also seen some marked as 45 feet; these are usually used for somewhat heavier-duty use, though this height seems to be getting more common.
I even saw a small handful of them that are taller, such as 50 or 70 feet; these are used to hold big transformers or for near a highway bridge so to hold the wires very high. I am guessing that the ones directly by highway bridges are probably at least 75 feet tall.
I actually found a few poles as short as only 25 feet tall. One of them is the aforementioned 1947-dated Koppers pole in Greenfield. Several other ones are located just north of the center of Lake Pleasant. I also saw a few others located in other places, such as one on Swamp Road in Montague Center.
However, I did recently discover a few poles (near an Amherst/Leverett town border) that are even shorter. These ones are only 16 feet tall and have a class number I never realized existed: 9. These poles are definitely of special type of use, since they don't hold up wires. I also saw a couple of such poles on Route 2 in Erving. At first, I thought that these poles were cut shorter and used to be 25-foot ones. Looking at brandings on one of them, however, it is apparent that these were always that short; the height number that I had read is 15 or 16.
Some of the letter combinations I have seen on the left of the date of the Koppers poles: "MO"; "GR"; "CH"; "FL"; "GA"; "LR"; "PN."
There also seems to be a pattern between the letter arrangements and the dates on the Koppers poles, in the sense that there are certain correspondences between them. For example, the ones dated 1978 often seem to have "MO."
The pattern mentioned above is not necessarily always the case. For instance, I know of at least as many as three different letter combinations used in 1979.
Some of the letters I have seen that are on the right of the tree species initials: "A"; "C"; "P"; "SK"; "G." There even seems to be a pattern with these letters that correspond with the color of the poles. The brown poles have either "A" or "C" (or "C8" once in a while); the orange ones "P" or sometimes "PA" (and even "PH" once in a while); and the green ones "SK," "SK6," or sometimes "SK60." I have also seen one green one with "S6."
Mereduc also has its own letter combinations. One that I can think of right off is "NX." Another combination is just "A." Yet another is "CA."
When Koppers has a pole with an orange appearance, the treatment letter is often just "P." However, Mereduc seems to use "PA" to indicate that type of treatment.
Poles with the name Cahaba on them have the letter/number combination "B6" before the date.
Some other preservation companies besides Koppers and Mereduc probably also have their own letter combinations. There is one that at least uses a single letter combination of "W"; it could be any or more than one of the following preservation companies that use this letter: AMCRECO; LANCO; M-A.