Ernie E. Watts posted three photos with the comment: "Installing fiber optic cable Woodstock Tn."
In 1980 the Staggers Act was passed. This allowed railroads to easily abandoned unprofitable branches. And there were a lot of excess rail routes since trucks and Interstate highways could cover much more distance in a day than a horse and wagon. But the railroad charters granted in the 19th Century stipulated that if a railroad abandons a route, the right-of-way (RoW) land becomes part of the adjacent land from which it had originally been bought. This caused problems for AT&T and MCI because farmers would rip out the railroad embankment running across a field so that it was easier to drive their farm machinery in the field. Ripping out an embankment had the side effect of ripping out any fiber optic cables that had been installed. Fortunately, for the rail-to-trail movement, AT&T and MIC had the deep pockets needed to hire lobbyist to get the laws changed so that a right-of-way remains intact even if the track has been removed.
a photo taken in Plant City, FL shows three utilities taking advantage of the railroad's RoW. The most obvious use is a pipeline. The sign on the concrete pole says "Buried Cable." No doubt this was a coax cable that is no longer used. The post remains because it is not worth the expense of removing it. Coax cable was the technology used to carry long-distance telephone calls before the microwave technology was developed. Fiber optics has now replaced most microwave towers. Retiring the use of microwaves frees up frequencies that can be sold to cell phone companies. (The reason the TV channels we used for decades no longer work is because those frequencies have also been snarfed up by cell phone companies.) In the photo, the white pole with an orange top used to stand straight up, and it marked the location of a buried fiber optic cable.
The code lines have already been removed from Downers Grove. But Marty Bernard has a photo that shows the old code lines in Westmont. How would you like to be a signal maintainer back then during a bad freezing rain storm? All of those copper wires have been replaced by the underground fiber optic cable.
(new window) I recommend skipping to about 2:30. It sounds like in parts the locomotive had to pull pretty hard.