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“anyone know where I can get a cheap/free utility pole?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 11, 2016 at 2:15 pm 33 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

Ed. Note: Hopefully OP doesn’t live on Archibald Walk

“Dear PoPville,

Can you ask the community if anyone knows where I can get a cheap/free utility pole? I contacted Pepco and they sent me an email to another division, which I’ve emailed several times to no response.

I’m trying to set up a zipline in the back yard for the kids, and I want to bury a pole 3 feet down and still have it high enough for the line.”

  • neighbor

    I would not tell your homeowner’s insurance about this plan. But here you go:

  • gotryit

    A utility pole, really??

    Here’s a good 10′ 6×6 column you can get from home depot: http://www.homedepot.com/p/6-in-x-6-in-x-10-ft-Pressure-Treated-Wood-Column-C63202D/202090638

    If you want a few feet more, you could get four 2x12s that are up to 20′ long and make a box out of them. You may want to talk to an engineer about getting a more solid base on that… 3′ with some concrete may not be enough. The last thing you want is a large wooden pole crushing your children!

    • LittleBluePenguin

      +1! dear lord, this sounds like an accident waiting to happen – but I do appreciate the outside-the-box thinking this parent has done in terms of ways to help their kids be active and have fun…

    • jdre

      3′ definitely won’t be enough. 5x as much would be above ground, if you want it more than one story high.

      Also be sure to call before you dig, lest you hit a gas line and kill us all. I think it’s 811 or

  • ruby7

    “i’ll take ‘Bad Ideas’ for $200, Alex…”

    • Skip This House

      We found the guy who gives out pencils at Halloween

      • gotryit

        To be fair, it does sound like a disaster waiting to happen. I think that someone with the know how to build something stable would be capable of buying / repurposing materials to make it without going to popville for help.
        eagerness / creativity =/= structural stability

        • It’s just me

          Eh. my brother isn’t terribly handy, but his kids wanted a zip line, so he did some research and figured out how to do it safely. The kids have been using the zipline for a couple years now, and no accidents thus far.

          • Planner

            We had one when I was a kid, that went from a tree house, crossing over a creek and ending on the far side of the back yard.
            No engineers involved and no injuries either.
            Maybe we were lucky, maybe not.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Lots of things that are sufficiently dumb and dangerous that nobody in their right mind seriously recommends them still happen to not result in injury or death most of the time. Most drunk driving trips end with the drunk driver uneventfully making it home – this obviously does not meant that driving drunk is safe or smart.

  • Y.U. Parcthar

    Love the URL on this one.

    • textdoc


  • wolfpackwx

    Slow clap on the webpage tag!

  • kenhatesspam
    • SF

      Vintage utility pole, $1200.

  • MDGuy

    If you are actually serious about this (it seems like a really bad idea), I would look up companies that sell pier pylons. We used several cut up ones to line our driveway.

    American Pole and Timber is one, but I can’t recall if that’s the company we used. Please note that most of these companies will just dump the logs in your yard. Actually moving/installing them is on you.

  • Bob Vila

    There’s an 11ft one on Craigslist right now for $20.
    Another alternative, they are replacing the poles on 4Th St near Barnard ES. Maybe ask the crew to ‘lose track’ of one of the old poles when they bring it down.

  • anonymous

    Heck my neighbors have a trampoline in their backyard and sometimes I can’t even enjoy my own backyard because of all of the noise. 10x’s worse when they are playing basketball.

    • Philippe Lecheval

      Just be glad they’re doing normal kid stuff and not beating/robbing someone for no reason at all.

      • Bloomy


    • markus

      At least its not the pot my neighbors smoke straightthrough from 8am till midnight. Made the backyard a “no-go” zone.

  • K

    Growing up we had a zip line in our backyard that my step-dad put up on utilities poles. He worked as a lineman for the local power company so I am sure he just got them from work. Kuddos for a trying to create a fun backyard.

  • Anon

    not sure if was dumped there intentionally, but there’s a utility pole that’s been laying on a traffic island for about a year where Broad Branch Rd, Nevada Ave, 36th St and Linnean Ave NW all intersect. It’s 35-40 feet long so you might need some help getting it home.

  • Eric

    I dont know what they treat them with now, but I would be concerned about CCA (Chromated copper arsenate) not to mention creosote which had high levels of PAHs. Best just to get wood that is supposed to be used for use by people.

    • anon

      +1 This was my first thought

  • Renee

    Professionals who do this have accidents in which people are paralyzed and you are a non pro who wants to risk his children’s lives with this lamebrained idea? Don;t be surprised if your neighbors call Child Services.

    • victoria

      The greatest risk for a child is to have a boring and constrained life.

      • Ms. D

        This is seriously the least fun thread ever. I doubt someone in this neck of the woods is building a 100’+ long zipline over a gorge that reaches high speeds and telling their kids to have at it unsupervised. Probably a few feet long and a few feet tall (and if the parents are smart, with a removable hold so that it *cannot* be used without supervision…minimal precautions are still a good idea). Could someone get hurt even with their feet a foot off the ground? Sure, but I’ve also had some pretty serious accidents walking down stairs and the like, so…
        You want to keep your kids safe? Never put them in a car.

        • Nicky

          OP here.
          It’s a zip line in my backyard using a kit I bought from Amazon. One end will be around a large tree (2-3 feet in diameter), but at the other end, there’s no tree big enough. The kit recommends a tree of 10 inches diameter minimum. That is why a utility pole and not a post from HD. From my research, I think a 12 foot long utility pole buried 4 feet in the ground with guides attached at angles to support can withstand the lateral forces of my kids zipping along a few feet above the ground. As for repurposing materials, that’s why I am trying to get a telephone pole. Surprisingly, Pepco has not been doing a good job of getting back to me about getting a pole from them. I don’t know why the kids would even touch the pole to get contaminated, so I am not really concerned about that aspect. Finally, we don’t live in Petworth, and our backyard is large (kids also have a fort and I built a 12×12 shed for my workshop), so neighbors aren’t upset by the idea of boys zipping along a line in the afternoons. (I have spoken with them, too.)

  • contrarian

    There is a Pepco right-of-way that runs along the old Glen Echo Trolley line from Palisades to Georgetown. They seem to just leave their old poles along the trail. The neighbors would be thrilled if you came and got one.

  • Anonymous

    You know these things are dipped in horrible chemicals…probably not good to have around playing children

  • hma

    Man, you people are lumps. This sounds like an awesome idea.

  • paladeac

    We had a zip line on my grandparent’s farm in VA growing up and it was SO fun. Given, that was on a farm with a couple hundred acres and plenty of room. You must have a nice sized back yard for DC to be able to fit one in safely! But the kids will definitely enjoy!


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