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Wired for Communication
 

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Communication between California and the rest of the United States in the 1850s was difficult, due in large part to the state's geographic isolation.  The legendary Pony Express bridged this communications gap temporarily, but this famous relay of horseback riders was made obsolete by the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line in October 1861. 

Messages between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts that had taken days to arrive could now be safely and reliably sent in a matter of minutes.  California Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen J. Field telegraphed President Lincoln on the day of the telegraph's completion, stating "the people of California desire to congratulate you upon the completion of the great work.  They believe that it will be the means of strengthening the attachment which binds both the east and the west to the Union."


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"Circus Licenses," 1857.  State Controller's Records, California State Archives.

"Circus Licenses," 1857.

State Controller's Records, California State Archives


This segment of wire from the original transcontinental telegraph line is from the Antelope Spring Pony Express station in eastern Nevada. Artifact Collection, California State Archives.

This segment of wire from the original transcontinental telegraph line is from the Antelope Spring Pony Express station in eastern Nevada.

Artifact Collection, California State Archives.



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