“The Rain Turtle” and Other Tower Superstitions…Happy Friday the 13th!


turtleThe tower industry abounds with colorful characters with quirky rituals…especially when you get “inside the fence” of a tower site.  Although the rules of logic and safety and, most importantly, the law of gravity take precedence, on a Friday the 13th other ‘traditions’ may show themselves at the morning tailgate meeting.  One of the more prominent superstitions among tower crews is ‘the rain turtle.’  According to David “Gunny” Harrison, owner of Telecom Resources Group, the turtle, who may have origins from Native American rituals, has several functions.  

“Well sir,” said Harrison, “ya’ have two versions of it depending on whom you ask, but it was the superstition of tower hands that would be wishing for rain because of being hungover, tired or what have you.” Crew members or the foreman would draw a turtle, one with only three legs, in the dirt on the site or place rocks in the shape of a turtle and it was said to bring rain. “‘Course when one did this fortunately it was always overcast and chances were it was going to rain,” said Harrison. “We used to make the rain turtle out of clay,” said one tower tech. “Got chewed out for drawing it once, but then it rained like hell.”

Other rituals contributed by tower techs include:  

  • “Never discuss falling or dying.”
  • “We NEVER talk about death on site!!!”
  • “Never use the L word or the E word. ‘Logic’ or ‘easy’”
  • “If we were praying for rain we always stacked three rocks on top of each other……seen ol’ timers do it when I was young and it stuck.”
  • “Another is you can not take “X” bracing out of the face of a tower or it will collapse…..but many have and still do this to install an inside gin pole.”

January 13, 2017

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