OT High voltage line

This is a true story that happened about 30 years ago. Our boy scout troop was in a cabin in Blue Ridge mountains. A few of us were hiking down the road. There were a few large manholes on the side of the road.
We opened one. It was about 3 ft deep. As near as I can remember it had only one cable inside. The cable was flexible and had a tee in the middle with a removable rubber cap.
One of the guys thought it was a water valve. He stuck his thumb into the "valve" thinking he was going to wet the rest of us and a blue flame shot out. It cooked his thumb nail.
If I remember the details, it was only one conductor. The tee must have been there to be able to plug in another line in the future. It was almost like it was a quick connect plug.
Of course, we never told the scoutmaster. Anyone have more info on what exactly we were messing with?
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wrote:

Theere are no manholes in the Blue Ridge mountains.
Although it is interesting that where there is just forest now, there were once farms. On both sides of where Skyline Drive is now. It was bad farming on the side of a mountain, even a short mountain, and when the Midwest became available, most of those farmers went there. Their houses collapsed, the forest filled their fields and ripped up their "roads". I think maps give the location of a few visible remnants of what was there around 200 years ago.
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The "T" sounds like a splice. The cap could be covering a set screw. Something like this: http://www.aplussupply.com/nsipolaris/polarisblue.htm but for high voltage

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