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Whether on the road in a cargo trailer or in his Indiana home, George Hayden lived to show his lifetime collection of electric utility tools and equipment as a way to celebrate what he considered an unsung trade: utility linemen.

“It is so unfortunate that so many people never realize the dedication, danger, and devotion that line crews extend to the public,” wrote Hayden on a now-defunct website begun in the late 2000s to showcase the items.

“The police are honored, firemen are honored, but line crews are never seen, much less honored,” continued Hayden, who was a lineman at three municipal utilities in his native Indiana and was a sales rep for an electric supplier. He died in 2015 at age 74.

Today, Hayden’s collection, which he assembled over the course of a 43-year career in the industry, has become the Mobile Lineman Museum, the centerpiece of a capital campaign for the International Linemen’s Museum and Hall of Fame in Shelby, N.C.

But before that, Hayden hauled the thousands of artifacts in a refurbished 45-ft. Gooseneck trailer to lineman rodeos and co-op annual meetings in Indiana. He invited folks to hop inside the trailer to take a gander at the “cream of the crop” of his collection: glass and porcelain insulators, reclosers, wooden hot sticks, mounting and suspension insulators, coin-operated meters, and more.

“Needless to say, every pain, ache, cut, and scratch was forgotten,” Hayden wrote, referring to the time and sweat he put into the trailer. “I had something that was totally enjoyed by everyone.”

But when Hayden fell into ill health about four years ago and was unable to tour, the trailer sat idle at his Brownstown, Ind., home.

“He tried to keep his dream alive for as long as he could,” says Hayden’s son Tim, a warehouse manager at Clark County REMC in Sellersburg, Ind. “He always said, ‘They don’t make stuff like this anymore. We need to save what we can.’”

That chance for posterity came in 2013, when the elder Hayden sold the collection to the museum’s co-founders, Andy Price and Murray Walker. “Over the years, we traded pieces,” Price says. “He gave us stuff, and we gave him stuff. Many times we were told that there was nothing more he loved doing than to show it off.”

Their paths crossed again when Price and Walker met at Hayden’s home to discuss the possibility of taking the exhibit on the road as a museum fundraiser. Hayden offered a price, but it was too high. Then he reconsidered.

“Before we left town, George called and said, ‘I’ve been selfish. I can’t do it anymore,’ and sold his collection” and leased the trailer, Price recalls.

Price and Walker now take the Mobile Lineman Museum to events across the country. As another tribute to the late Indiana lineman, upon hearing of Hayden’s death, both men drove the old Gooseneck trailer back to Indiana for the funeral and procession.

“We left it like he left it,” Price says. “His vision fueled us even more to keep his dream alive.”

View Photo Gallery | The Mobile Lineman Museum