Publication: The Telegrapher
New York, NY, United States
A Nest of Old Fossils.—Too many Ohms by Half.
MILWAUKIE, Wis., Jan., 1872.
To THE EDITOR OF THE TELEGRAPHER.
THE uncompromising hostility to old fogyism which has always been a prominent characteristic of your lively little sheet, is, in my opinion, one of its greatest recommendations. While laughing, with the rest, over your amusing expositions of Western Union "science in high places," I have frequently wished that your peripatetic associate might some time find his way into this stronghold of antediluvian telegraphic fossilism, in order that we might enjoy his caustic remarks on what he saw in Wisconsin. Why, the Western Union is in the fore-front of civilization compared with the Northwestern Company! You talk about those "improved Western Union wires" between New York and Washington. Let a little sprinkle of rain fall on these lines and, presto! they are dead as Julius Caesar! Let me a tale unfold:
About a year ago an unprincipled adventurer from Chicago brought a galvanometer up here and commenced nosing around among the wires. In one of the La Crosse circuits, with the relays all out, he found 20,000 ohms. The other La Crosse wire gave him 32,000 ohms, with 25 relays in. These are each about 200 miles long. No. 1 to Prairie Du Chien, 200 miles, with 35 relays, 72,000 ohms! The Chicago chap was disgusted. I don't believe he ever saw such an almighty lot of ohms before in his life at one time! But when he found a circuit so full of ohms that his machine wouldn't measure them, and he allowed it was dead open, then the Northwestern boys showed him how they could work right straight through it by putting on 200 cups Grove, and getting up a current that would jump the break, ohms or no ohms. That made the galvanometer man sick, and he went home. He evidently never found quite so many ohms to the square mile since he went into the business as he did on the Northwestern.
Then, as for insulators, they won't even use the screw-glass. (N. B—They are said to cost half a cent a piece more than the plain ones.) And the Brooks insulator. Goodness gracious me! You would think, to hear the Northwestern officials talk, that the Brooks insulator would give them the small-pox, sure! The favorite insulator here is what might best be described as a tarred stick—a sort of a narrow gauge niggerhead insulator, without any glass in it. Blockhead insulator would be the appropriate name for this invention. They are supposed to cost nearly five cents each.
Not long ago a number of new relays were got from somewhere and put in, but they wouldn't work, and the old gentleman sent them all back. The fact was, I suspect, that they didn't have ohms enough in them— only 200 or so. You can't do anything on the Northwestern wires if you are stingy with your ohms! Ohms are their "best holt." With a thousand of them in every relay, and a hundred in every mile of line, tar insulators, and plenty of Grove battery, how we apples swim—if it don't rain!
The proprietor of the Northwestern Telegraph Company is Mr. Z. G. Simmons, of Kenosha. He is a conspicuously prudent and economical man, as you have, doubtless inferred, and not, by any means, one of your theoretical chaps. He is likewise a Western Union director, and rendered invaluable assistance, during the memorable "onpleasantness," by sending several sheets of foolscap by telegraph, imploring Oliver Palmer to "stand firm," and Oliver stood, and thus the great Western Union kite, with the little Northwestern bob on the tail of it, continued to soar aloft. Mr. S. Robertson, the General Superintendent, is a worthy old gentleman. The memorable "battle of the insulators" on the St. Paul and Pacific road almost worried him to death, but since that was settled it has taken a great weight off his mind.
But I am trespassing on your crowded columns. I only meant to drop you a few lines, and if you think worthwhile to print them you may hear from mo again soon.