(Not So) Electrifying Mystery Artifact

Okay, so it doesn’t look very electrifying, though someone guessing on our Facebook page today proclaimed, “Whatever it is, it is beautiful.” It does have a certain simple beauty to it, doesn’t it?

Electrical engineers in the early 20th century must have thought so. Today’s artifact is a wooden “break-strain insulator” from our Central Maine Power collection. An insulator resists the flow of electric charge; it supports or separates conductors without allowing the current to run through itself. Below you can see a sample of many other insulators in the CMP collection.

The cataloging description explains that our break-strain insulator, with its considerable load-bearing capacity, was “used in the construction of overhead catenary lines for a trolley or interurban railroad system” and dates to around 1915. It literally “breaks the strain” of the voltage running through the system.

Want to know more about strain insulators? Read this.

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