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I would have to say the most fun and strenuous insulator hunting I've ever done would have to be hunting the Locke 25 line. This line was constructed in 1904 from the Skagway powerhouse to distribute the excess power to the town of Pueblo, CO. Made by the Brookfield Glass Company, the tops are embossed on the front with "Locke Patents Apr. 29, 1902, June7, 1898, Nov. 2, 1896, Sept. 28, 1897, Dec. 15, 1896, and Apr. 30, 1891." The rear skirt is embossed "No. 25" with one exception covered later in this article. The base is embossed with "Locke Pat Dec. 15, 96, June 7, 98." The line was in service until around 1965 when the plant was shutdown. The last upgrade on the line brought Ohio Brass "treated top" ugly mud... oh, wait, all mud is ugly! Yes, contrary to what the mud daubers say or what you may have heard or read I abhor "the mud" Accessing the line requires hiking approximately three miles up a canyon with a partially maintained trail with a gentle uphill grade. The fun begins once you reach where the line crosses the trail. Your options are to go either up or you can go up... that's right, you can go up the line to the left or up the line to the right. The line pretty much follows the mountainside straight up and straight down as it crosses the ridge tops. Staying on the line right-of-way is fairly easy as many poles are still standing. Many of the poles are the original untreated trees cut in the area and have since been stubbed. I have to admire the kind of person and the work it took to construct this line through such a rugged area. Hiking the line was bad enough in the summer I can just imagine what it must have been like to have to maintain it during the harsh mountain winters in the snow. As you hike along the line the ground is littered with the carcasses of broken Locke 25s and the occasional "ugly mud". When it was discovered that the insulator was prone to failure from lightening strikes the line was upgraded and the 25s were left on the ground. The weather did its damage causing the insulators to shatter from water freezing. The 25s were assembled on site using Portland cement to cement the top to the base and then cementing the base on the fluted pin, which probably sealed the fate of most of the Locke 25s. Very few mint specimens are known to exist today hence the good price realized for a mint one. Many exist in collections as kitsulators where an attempt is made to gather all the pieces in order to glue one back together. This is the best method for acquiring one for the collection. It is reported that a few in very good condition were hauled out by collectors and non-collectors in the early 60's. The chances of a finding a whole one still on the line are very remote indeed. This is my third try at hunting this line to be able to find enough pieces to reconstruct a lock 25. Surprisingly the most difficult part of reconstructing a Locke 25 is finding enough pieces to reconstruct a base. Having cement on the inside and outside of the base pretty much destroyed the tops of the base causing them to shatter into hundreds of pieces. Joining me once again on this hunt is my mother who is always eager for a good hike. While she hasn't gotten bit by the insulator collecting bug she does lend herself to helping me find new things for the collection and can be persuaded at times to help pack out that heavy glass. Working our way along the line we come to a pole where I previously was able to assemble most of the pieces for a complete top. I was missing a few small pieces that I wanted to find the next time I was here. As my mother swatted at the pesky flies and searched the area for things of interest I proceeded to strategically rake the area for shards to the top. After thoroughly combing the area I was able to find a few more pieces to complete the top. While working, my mother noticed a chunk of glass under the base of the stubbed pole. Further inspection revealed an aqua CD 162 N.E.G.M.Co. which unfortunately was cracked. Continuing on down the line we found no more prospective kitsulators and reached the bottom of the canyon with a little stream running down and a few shade trees providing relief from the blazing sun. Preceding up the other side the remnants of some very large multi-part "ugly mud" was littered down the mountainside. This area was so steep the chances of finding all the pieces to anything were very slight. Laboring along we discovered the faint remains of a maintenance trail for the line that made the assent much easier. Reaching the top presents you with quite a view of the line on its trek across the ridges. We decide to see how far we can follow the line and hunt on the way back. By mid afternoon the heat and the fact we were running low on water along with the increasingly thick brush and steep, loose rocky slope persuaded us to start heading back. On the way back I start intensifying my search for a prospective kitsulator. I find one spot where it looks like I could put together a pretty good top. The pieces are cleanly broken and in large chunks. I start assembling them and discover I'm still missing about half the skirt. I search the area and 50 feet away I find another large part of the skirt. By now I have a very good candidate and only need that last part of the skirt and I'll have the best kitsulator I've found to date. I really start hunting the area making bigger and bigger circles around the whole area. After spending a half hour or more with no luck I spy what looks like a chunk of skirt sticking out of the duff. I reach down to pick it up only to find that it won't budge. That's odd I thought, that piece isn't that big to be stuck in the ground like that. I get my hand rake and proceed to start digging the duff and dirt away. As I dig the piece keeps getting bigger and bigger finally revealing the half section of a top to another insulator that still won't budge. I call my mother over and explain I think I have found a complete Locke 25! She reminds me to take some pictures of the find before I finish unearthing it. I continue digging to reveal a base with pin. Of course nature had been at work so the base and top were cracked but a complete unit was salvageable. Funny thing I should have been elated at the find but I was still disappointed at not finding that other section of skirt I had spent so much time looking for. I carefully remove the insulator piece by piece and carefully wrap the pieces in bubble wrap for the long hike back to our camping spot. Starting out that morning hiking over the mountains with a light pack didn't seem so bad but loaded and tired the long trip back seemed agonizingly slow. Coupled with the heat and the water gone the death march began with only three ridges left to cross! I somehow find the energy to search one more spot on the way back where I assemble a mostly complete top with just a few pieces missing. Why does it always happen that way? The heat and my thirst drive me to continue on. I'll have to come back tomorrow for that one. Reaching camp we rest for a while and the decision is made to pack our finds for the day back out adding another few miles to the many miles we had already hiked that day. As we leave the vehicle with emptied packs it's starting to get dark. Thankfully we had flashlights to light our way along the trail. Along with Locke 25s this area offers bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes. Meeting one on a dark trail was not my idea of a good time! All of a sudden up in front my mother lets out a yell that scares my heart out of its cage! There next to the trail is a black mass with two glowing eyes! Relief comes quickly as we discover a rock containing some type of reflective mineral in the perfect spots for eyes. The rest of the way back to camp I catch myself looking over my shoulder searching for that rock that might be watching me. I crawl into my tent and fall asleep almost immediately only to waken a short time later, it seems, at the crack of dawn to get an early start while the weather is still cool. We head directly for the spot where I had started assembling the top with the couple small pieces missing. I reach it and start the laborious process of sifting through the duff and dirt while my mother goes off exploring. I finally call it quits when she returns to pack up what I have. She reports that there might be a salvageable base at the next pole site. I start scratching around and start digging parts of a top out of the brush. This one looks pretty complete with all the pieces accounted for. With unembossed! Until this time an unembossed top has not been reported. The mystery is why these were made before the mold engraving was done? I plan to return to the site and packs loaded I decide that's enough for the day and proceed on another mountain death march back to camp. If you recall at the beginning of this article, I mentioned an exception to the embossing on the Locke 25s. I discovered after I got back home a week later while unpacking my finds and starting the assembly process that the last top I found was completely discover if the base was the regular embossed unit or one of the unembossed units similar to the ones used with that abomination M#2795 marrying mud to glass. Sacrilegious! The desecration of good glass tainted by mud! Oh, excuse me, where were we? Oh yes, it's out there waiting to be discovered and if you would like to experience the death march just give me a call and it can be arranged!
Locke 25, CD 342
Locke 25, CD 342

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