Last modified on August 26, 2020, at 02:29


The Telegraph was a rapid method of transmission of messages over long distance using Morse Code and an electric current, developed in the 19th century. Telegraph lines elevated by poles also became the standard for telephone and power lines for most of the United States throughout the 20th century.

Initially telegraph lines were placed underground, which is the standard in the 21st century for all such lines. But poor insulation and leakage caused short circuits which interfered with the transmission of the messages. The use of an elevated, above-ground approach of routing wires on poles was then adopted.

The telegraph itself is now a quaint reminder of a bygone era, eclipsed by newer and faster means of communications. The Morse Code is a relic, of interest mostly to ham radio operators.

What endures, nearly two centuries later, is Alfred [Vail]’s and [Samuel] Morse’s seat-of-the pants solution to shorted underground wires: Above-ground lines strung on wooden poles.[1]

See also