The Flag Pole Evolutions: Materials, Eras, and Everything In Between
Before the shiny anodized aluminum flagpoles were invented, people experimented with all types of materials. Some of them were great ideas, but others, not so much.
Today, we’re going to discuss the entire evolution of the flagpole, so you can see how far we’ve come.
Wooden Flagpole Era
There was a time when wood was the go-to material for any structure, including flagpoles. When put up to the task, the carpenter would head out to the forest to find a straight tree. They would then prune the trunk, attach a flag then plant the tree directly into the ground.
Later, the carpenters decided to add an extra service to make the flagpoles look better. So they shaped the trees with knives and sanded them down to a smooth finish. Animal fat was the preservative of choice, and these things lasted up to 50 years.
Steel Flagpole Era
It was around 1893 when people realized steel was a more durable alternative to wood. So they repurposed ship masts and other steel tubes into flagposts. This evolution started at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago when they welded a 75-foot steel tube to a 95-foot ship mast to make a 194-foot flagpole. That’s how the flagpole businesses started.
Aluminum Flagpole Era
Steel is durable and all, but it is also susceptible to rust and buckling. So the industry discovered aluminum would be a great alternative to steel. Usually, flagpoles are made of aluminum 6063 and are produced according to the government standard ASTM B241.
However, this metal needs to be heated to create a temper rating of T6, the hardest form of this alloy. The result of this production process is a flagpost that can withstand an astounding amount of stress. That makes it an excellent choice for exciting flagpole designs.
The finish on aluminum flagpoles determines the final price. For example, a pole that’s finished in directional mechanical satin can not sell for the same price as a brushed finish pole.
Anodized Aluminum Flagpole Era
Since aluminum is a perfect fit for flagposts, the industry has not found a better alternative yet. But they have discovered that coating aluminum with an oxide makes it harder and prevents weathering. The beauty of this process is that it does not add weight to the setup, so you still get to enjoy the lightweight property of aluminum.
Here’s how they do it:
Aluminum is dipped in a solution of sulfur, chrome, and boric. Then it’s connected to the positive terminal of a DC outlet. That makes it the anode in this electrolysis process, and a plate of ions or carbon is attached on the negative side (cathode) to complete the circuit. The result of this process is a neat layer of oxide that gives the aluminum its new superpowers.
Everything considered, flagpoles have really come a long way from the analog days of finding suitable trees to oxidized aluminum. And, owning one of these beauties is an excellent way to celebrate this evolution. Feel free to check out all our offerings at https://atlanticflagpole.com/ for more information.
Atlantic Flag and Pole
8 Vatrano Road Suite 2
Albany NY 12205