1907 - Storage Battery Installation
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Mon Mar 19 23:22:01 EDT 2007
Roanoke Times - March 19, 1907
Electrical Engineer Putting in Storage Battery
Colonel Samuel R. Crowder, chief electrical engineer for the
Western Union Telegraph Company, is in Roanoke superintending the
installing here of a large storage battery plant that will furnish
current for the half hundred telegraph wires that take the invisible
juice at this point.
Colonel Crowder announced some months ago that it was the
intention of the Western Union to put in a modern battery plant here
and it was expected by him and the general officers of his company
that the plant would be in operation by the first of this month but
unforeseen troubles in widely separate sections of the country arose
that demanded the presence of the chief engineer and his corps of
assistants and the work here was retarded. It is now believed however
that the Roanoke plant will be completed within the next week or ten
days and that by Easter the batterymen will receive orders to send
the old-style bluestone, zinc and copper cells now in use here to the
The storage plant is being placed in the general office building
of the Norfolk & Western Railway Company and will come under the
supervision of Col. W. C. Walstrum, superintendent of telegraph for
that company. The plant will furnish current for the Western Union
wires, the supply being transmitted from the Norfolk & Western
building to the main office of the Western Union Company on Jefferson
street by a number of storage leads. It will be an easy matter to
distribute the current in any quantity desired and the plant will
insure a steady flow at all times. There will be no fluctuation and
no broken jars to cause an interruption to the handling of messages
as is the case where the old style jars are used.
Colonel Crowder expects to give Roanoke a plant that will meet
the demands here for many years to come and it is being built of the
very best material procurable, everything coming under the A 1 class.
At present there are several hundred cells of battery in the
battery room at the Western Union office and a goodly number occupy
space in the Norfolk & Western building. All of these will be torn
down and shipped to other points.
Storage battery plants are being installed by Western Union
people in their principal offices over the country where there is a
heavy and continuous demand for strong and even current on the trunk
wires. The telegraph business has grown wonderfully in Roanoke within
the past few years. At the Western Union office a number of wires are
worked in duplex, while the Norfolk & Western operate come of their
circuits in quadruplex.
Manager Terrell, of the Western Union, and Manager Jett, of the
railroad's general telegraph office, will welcome the improvement and
in the future they will not experience nearly so much trouble with
current as has been the case in the past.
Colonel Crowder is a native Virginian and his rise has been
meteoric. Twenty years ago he was a telegrapher in the Richmond
office, where he was classed as gilt-edge. At that time he also
gained considerable notoriety as a bicyclist, being hailed as the
champion wheelman of the day. Later he invented the dummy baseball
game which was for a long time a craze over the country and is yet
popular in the ball-crazy towns. The dummy game is played by figures
on a board and the audience watches the movements of their home team
and the opponents while seated in a theatre or hall.
Colonel Crowder is widely known in secret order circles having
for a number of years held high offices in the I.O.O.F. and other orders.
A decade ago Colonel Crowder took up the study of electricity and
applied his time to that field to such an extent that his knowledge
was soon in demand as an electrician, After being transferred from
the operating department to the engineering department Colonel
Crowder quickly climbed the rungs on the big ladder and two years ago
reached the platform at the top.
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