N&W telegraph equipment

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jun 18 18:08:19 EDT 2009

Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 22:54:56 -0400
From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Subject: RE: N&W telegraph equipment

How did that work? Did Western Union let N&W use its equipment and lines to
transmit train orders, etc., as well as transmit personal messages for
paying customers?

Mike Weeks
Charlotte NC

June 18, 2009

Hello, Mike:

Although Western Union (WU) maintained the communication lines and the telegraph equipment used by the N&W, some wires were for exclusive use of the N&W while others were exclusive use of WU. In fact there were other wires on the pole line that were not used by N&W stations and offices, such as a wire for Associated Press, or a wire for the information printed by stock tickers.

My understanding is that there were four wires in most N&W stations. These were a dispacher's wire, a message line for N&W company messages (such as car reports, car orders, rate quotes, or passenger reservations), and a block line for communicating with adjoining offices. The block line broke at each office, but at night or other times such as Sundays and holidays, it was patched through closed offices so it in effect became "longer" but still connected adjacent open offices. The fourth wire was used for Western Union message traffic.

I'm always interested in recollections and further information about telegrahic communications, such as wire numbers or desk configurations. Off-list discussions are welcomed at f_scheer at yahoo.com

Best wishes,

Frank Scheer

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