My how things have changed!
Though it’s hard to believe now in this fast-paced world, the telegraph was once very modern technology.
Samuel Morse began tinkering with the idea of communication through electric wires in 1832. But it wasn’t until 1844 that the first telegraph was successfully sent over a distance from Washington to Baltimore.
After a series of missteps and fighting others who sought to steal his ideas, Samuel’s telegraph company became the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1856.
From there the telegraph grew by leaps and bounds. In 1860 Congress passed the Pacific Telegraph Act to begin building an intercontinental telegraph system linking the East coast with the West.
Telegraph poles began springing up across the nation. In treeless areas they had to ship in poles. The cost and labor to construct such an elaborate system was enormous.
But problems plagued them. Weather, pesky outlaws who didn’t want to be captured, curious Indians, pioneers who sometimes used the poles as firewood, and the fact that the buffalo used the poles as a backscratcher caused inconsistent availability of the line.
Still….it was better than nothing.
WHAT DID IT COST TO SEND A TELEGRAPH?
Initially…$1.00 per word
Later…..$7.00 for 10 words
Then ….$3.00 for 10 words when Congress regulated
So, it wasn’t cheap. Not everyone could afford it, seeing as how $1 in 1861 equals over $25.00 today. Typical wages at that time were around $1 a day. Out on the plains it was probably less than that.
Then, I had this thought….what if they started charging us to send emails? Yikes!!!
These books are available on Amazon on Kindle: