Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Western Wednesday History...!

This probably was one of the biggest accomplishments of the time, up until then!

Communication, or the lack thereof, had always been one of the biggest drawbacks in the development of the far west. Upon the completion of the coast to coast telegraph, the drive west was almost guaranteed!

Given how quickly the telegraph link was completed, I can't help but be amazed at this milestone of American history!

Oct 24, 1861:
Western Union completes the first transcontinental telegraph line

On this day in 1861, workers of the Western Union Telegraph Company link the eastern and western telegraph networks of the nation at Salt Lake City, Utah, completing a transcontinental line that for the first time allows instantaneous communication between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Stephen J. Field, chief justice of California, sent the first transcontinental telegram to President Abraham Lincoln, predicting that the new communication link would help ensure the loyalty of the western states to the Union during the Civil War.

The push to create a transcontinental telegraph line had begun only a little more than year before when Congress authorized a subsidy of $40,000 a year to any company building a telegraph line that would join the eastern and western networks. The Western Union Telegraph Company, as its name suggests, took up the challenge, and the company immediately began work on the critical link that would span the territory between the western edge of Missouri and Salt Lake City.

The obstacles to building the line over the sparsely populated and isolated western plains and mountains were huge. Wire and glass insulators had to be shipped by sea to San Francisco and carried eastward by horse-drawn wagons over the Sierra Nevada. Supplying the thousands of telegraph poles needed was an equally daunting challenge in the largely treeless Plains country, and these too had to be shipped from the western mountains. Indians also proved a problem. In the summer of 1861, a party of Sioux warriors cut part of the line that had been completed and took a long section of wire for making bracelets. Later, however, some of the Sioux wearing the telegraph-wire bracelets became sick, and a Sioux medicine man convinced them that the great spirit of the "talking wire" had avenged its desecration. Thereafter, the Sioux left the line alone, and the Western Union was able to connect the East and West Coasts of the nation much earlier than anyone had expected and a full eight years before the transcontinental railroad would be completed.

When you stop and think about it, we certainly have come a long way since this completion. It's mind blowing to see what man can do when they put their mind to it, don't you think?

Coffee on the patio this morning. Summer type weather is back and it's going to be hot!

7 comments:

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Now I have to dig up that old movie from the 40's! Forgot who was in it.
Robert Young maybe?
It's warm here too - 54 degrees.
I'll bring some oatmeal raisin cookies for us to munch on.

Sixbears said...

Western Union went on to lay underwater cable -from sailing ships. The "Western Union" is still sailing out of Key West taking tourists on day trips.

Catawissa Gazetteer said...

.... .. ... - --- .-. -.--

.-. --- -.-. -.- ...!!

linda m said...

It always amazes me how much technology has advanced just in the last 150 years. Wow, thanks for the history lesson today.

Sissy said...

"what man can do when they put their mind to it"

Yes, truly amazing. Yet here we 'civilized earthlings' today dwell in uncivilized strife and strain, for murdering gain. Seems our communication methods today are giving us quite a few problems, don't you think? Makes me think of that old adage "Too many cooks spoil the soup".

JO said...

It is a great story to read. Thanks for the post today.
Coffee on the patio sounds wonderful and the off again for another busy day.
Nice sunrise this morning

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Oatmeal raisin cookies is a good choice!

I like oatmeal raisin cookies with coffee. Sort of a cookie freak, but you knew that already...right?

Glad you liked the post and that you could come over today!


Hey Sixbears...
I wasn't sure if that was the same company or not. Thanks for letting me know!

Many thanks, my friend, for coming by today!


Hey Gazetteer...
Sorry, but I forgot what little morse code I knew!

Thanks to ya for coming over today!


Hey Linda...
We have come a long way, without a doubt! Just have to wonder what's next!

Thanks for coming by today!


Hey Sissy...
There's no question that sometimes we can be our own worse enemy!

Just our nature, I reckon!

Thanks for the visit today!


Hey Jo...
My, you are definitely staying busy here lately! Gonna need to take a rest soon!

Better start saving yourself for the holidays!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!