[First posted June 2, 2009. See also this pole farm in Los Angeles where technicians learn how to climb utility poles. Via @nicolatwilley.]
Another testing ground is this field of telephone poles located in Chester Township, New Jersey. It's an arboretum of sorts, “planted” with several hundred tree trunks, the total of which may have peaked close to a thousand, carved out of different arboreal species and preserved using various methods. All are arranged in a formal grid and tagged with data-rich metal plates.
Here, AT&T and then other telecommunication companies subjected their lifeless midget forest to the elements of time. A menagerie of woodpeckers and pocket gophers were brought in to attack the poles. Humans and their spiked boots, too, ran rampant about the place in a balletic dance of ascents and descents, empirically choreographed.
All that just to create the perfect telephone pole.
Once a research center partly turned into a weird kind of aviary or a petting zoo or an even weirder sort of artificial ecology, the site is now part of a recreational area and an archive of our infrastructural past.