The Western Union Telegraph Company has kindly made out the following report for this article:
BLIZZARD OF MARCH 1888 AND THE TELEGRAPH
Partial List of References
"Quarterly report of the Western Union Telegraph Company, for the quarter ending June 30, 1888. journal of the Telegraph v. 21 p. 81 (June 20, 1888). 'The expenses of the quarter ended March 31st (always the leanest quarter of the year) were largely increased and the revenues diminished by the destructive blizzard of March, causing loss of revenue from crippled facilities and heavy expenses for repairs, the extent of which damage was unknown when the last estimate was made.'
"The great storm. Electric Age v. 5 Mar. 16, 1888 p. 1.
[Western Union Telegraph] 'Manager Dealy and Assistant Manager Brennan had cots placed in the executive offices of the company at 195 Broadway for the convenience of the operators who could not leave the building during the blizzard.
'' 'The company was an immense loser by the storm, and it is estimated that $100,000 will not cover the loss.
" 'One of the most extraordinary incidents of the great storm was a despatch [sic] received in this city on March 13, from Boston by way of London. For forty-eight hours there had been no telegraphic or railroad communication between New York and Boston. The correspondent of the Boston Globe, who has special wires from Boston running into the World office, has been unable to communicate with his editor. That night the correspondent received a despatch [sic] from him by way of London. The cables both from Boston and New York were in working order.'
"Telegraphic situation. Electric Age v. 5 Apr. 1, 1888 p. 1.
" 'The recent blizzard has taught the telegraph, telephone and electric light companies the necessity of placing their wires underground as speedily as possible. ...
" 'The Western Union wires particularly are in wretched condition. The recent storm played sad havoc with them, necessitating a practical rebuilding of the system between Washington and Boston. The loss to the company was immense.' ...
"Induction telegraphy. Electric Age v. 5 Apr. 1, 1888 p. 3.
" 'During the late blizzard a novel example of the value of telegraphing from a train by means of induction was given on the Lehigh Valley road. ...'
"United Press. Electric Age v. 5 Apr. 1, 1888 p. 8.
" '... From the first establishment of the telegraph there has never been so long a period of desolation as has been experienced since Sunday. The first break was made by the United Press about two o'clock, Tuesday, when they got a wire from New York, but in order to transmit messages they had to be sent over half the continent. From New York to Washington direct is about two hundred and thirty miles on a telegraph circuit, but to obtain word from there yesterday messages traveled 2,500 miles. They were first sent from New York to Chicago, thence to Washington by way of Pittsburgh. The Associated Press was working a wire from New York, by way of Cincinnati, about two hours later. During the night both press associations supplied their patrons with nearly the regular quantity of news notwithstanding the tremendous difficulties they had to overcome. The experience of the past two days demonstrates more forcibly than any recent event how much the country is dependent on two such splendidly organized and excellently equipped associations, for knowledge of events transpiring all over the worldWashington Republican ...
"'One of the Herald's despatches [sic] this morning shows how New York received news of the effect of the storm in Boston. The telegraph wires in and between the two cities were down, but Boston sent the news by Commercial cable, and it was repeated back over one of the other cables by way of London to New York.
"'The press service has been somewhat demoralized in this country from the complete prostration of the telegraph wires in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Albany and throughout the territory in which these cities are situated. Monday night the direct United Press circuit from New York to Chicago was routed via Rochester and was working up to half-past eight o'clock, when communication with New York was suddenly lost, and it was not picked up until yesterday morning. The Southern circuit between New York and Chicago was, by hard work kept open Monday and Tuesday, though the wire worked badly on account of being coated with sleet, in and near New York. After some delay Monday night the Northern line was connected with the southern at Chicago, and thence again east to Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Washington and BaltimoreRochester Herald." ...
"'Lancaster was shut in as by a Chinese wall from all outside communication. For thirty-six hours the city has been cut off from outside communication, except what leaked in from the West by the belated trains that carried mails.
" 'That the lot of a telegraph operator is not always a happy one, is frequently illustrated by such atmospheric wars as that which has cut off Lancaster from the outside world. ... When a storm such as has visited this and other sections of the country strikes, accompanied by snow and sleet, the result is that down goes everything. The sleet freezes on the wires hard and bears them down, and, there being such a strong tension, they are snapped off completely. ... Occasionally a point is completely isolated, and in order to overcome this, messages are sent to the nearest break, and thence transferred to trains. ...
'And it may be added, the wires that are standing work so badly that the operators are compelled to guess and worry along until they, to use a peculiar phrase of the craft, are turning gray. Lancaster Intelligencer.'
"Phillips, W. P. The Blizzard and the United Press. Electric Age V. 5 Apr. 1, 1888 p. 10.
'The United Press [New York) had Chicago direct both on Monday and Tuesday, March 12th and 13th, We worked with Chicago all day, via the West Shore and Nickel Plate wires (B. & 0.) on Monday; and up to between eight and nine o'clock that evening, when everything went up for the night. We got Chicago again Tuesday morning, and have had him regularly ever since. Outside of New England we had all of our points, excepting Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, right through the worst of the blizzard, reaching Albany, Troy, Saratoga, Rome, Amsterdam, Utica, Syracuse, Auburn, Rochester, Binghamton, Buffalo and Chicago direct; and Cincinnati, Louisville, Columbus, Dayton, Pittsburgh and Bradford from Chicago. Tuesday afternoon we let out another link and got into Washington two hours ahead of everybody else, and soon after Baltimore showed up. We did not have Philadelphia until late in the week, and New England is yet to be heard from. The experience of blizzard week showed that the Western Union has acquired a great property in the Baltimore & Ohio wires, and that its men have learned how to make those lines valuable as possible, in storm as well as in sunshine.
(Signed) WALTER P. PHILLIPS
March 20th, 1888.
"Repairs of telegraph wires. Elec. Rev. [N. Y.] v. 12 Mar, 24, 1888 p. 6.
'Repairs prosecuted with vigor after the blizzard; mysterious feature near Williamsbridge; 40 poles had been sawed off just below the cross arms.'
"Common sense in snow storms. Railroad Gazette v. 20 p. 181 (Mar. 23, 1988).
'During the two days which had elapsed since the storm, the cut near Sharon should have been shoveled out, and there were no doubt plenty of men who would have undertaken the job at reasonable, or if necessary, at unreasonable wages. It is evident though that in the absence of telegraphic communication, no authority exists for undertaking such work without instructions from headquarters.' ...
"Snow blockade. Railway Age. v. 13 P. 181 (Mar. 23, 1888).
'One of the strangest results of the great snow blockade in the east was the fact that telegrams between New York and Boston were actually sent by way of the Atlantic cable and England, crossing twice under the ocean and traversing some 6,000 miles in order to reach places less than 250 miles apart.'
"Blizzard in New York. Harper's Weekly v. 32 p. 210 (Mar. 24, 1888).
'Of forty-four out-of-town mails due between 8 A. M. and noon only four arrived. The trains bearing the other forty were stalled in drifts somewhere, but nobody knew where, because the telegraph wires all about had been beaten down by the storm. New York was cut off from communication by either mail or wire with Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, New Haven, Boston and generally with places east and south. In the limits of the city the storm had beaten down the wires also.'
"Fire Island cable. Elec. Wld. v. 11 P. 183 (Apr. 7, 1988).
'The Fire Island Cable, by means of which ocean steamers are signaled to New York, was broken by the blizzard.' "