Telegraph no more, Western Union arrived in 1870

Thursday, February 2, 2006, 17:02 —by Joe Crawford
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JeSais noted the end of the telegraph a few posts back, which made me interested in when San Diego got a line to be able to send those telegrams. According to the San Diego Historical Society website, it was 1870.

The year 1870 opened with business brisk and real estate act­ive. In March, four weeks’ sales aggregated over $50,000. One of the most encouraging features was the opening of telegraphic communications with the outside world. The need for this con­venience had been debated in the newspapers for some months. In the spring, the agents of the Western Union Telegraph Com­pany came and raised by canvass a subscription of $8,000, the amount of the subsidy required. The largest givers were Horton, Morse, San Diego Union, and J. S. Mannasse & Co. The whole sum was given by twenty-three individuals and firms. Work was begun upon the line immediately. The poles were distributed from a steamer, being floated from the vessel to the shore—a dangerous service, performed by Captain S. S. Dun­nells. The line was completed and the first dispatches sent, on August 19, 1870. The event caused much rejoicing.

And this too: from Ch. 5 of “The Glory Years” by Richard F. Pourade:

Agents of the Western Union Telegraph Company promised to install a telegraph line to Los Angeles if San Diegans underwrote it to the amount of $8000. A good part of the money was quickly subscribed, though in the end Horton had to put up $5000—but he asked and obtained half of the profits for three years. The first message, greetings to San Francisco, was sent by Horton on August 20.

Sounds like even though the link was to L.A., the first message was to San Francisco? Maybe they were afraid of Los Angeles-ization even then!

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