Arizona Military Telegraph

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

New York, NY, United States
vol. 9, no. 372, p. 213, col. 1-2

The Arizona Military Telegraph Line.


SAN DIEGO, CAL., Aug. 12.



IN preparing my communication of July 11th for THE TELEGRAPHER, there was a misconstruction in regard to the cause and effect of retaining transportation by Major Egbert, of the Twelfth Infantry, while awaiting instructions. It was an indication of an intention and expectation that something would soon be done towards the construction of the Arizona military telegraph line.

Mr. R. R. Haines, the superintendent of the proposed line from San Diego to Prescott, Arizona, and Capt. George F. Price, Fifth United States Cavalry, in command of the troops to be used as an escort in the construction of the line, have arrived in this city. The line has been definitely located, and the commencement of its construction only awaits the arrival of material.

The route decided upon is as follows:

Leaving Prescott, the line crosses the mountains south, crossing Kirkland Valley, and passes through People's Valley to Wickenburg; from Wickenburg to Phoenix via Lamblings and Duppa; from Phoenix to Maricopa Wells; thence to Meson via Sacaton, Florence, Picahcho and Point of Mountains-total distance about 225 miles. From Phoenix it is intended, if possible, to run a branch to McDowell, a distance of 25 wiles. From Maricopa Wells to Yuma the line crosses the desert to Gila Bend, and from thence follows the general course of the river to Yuma City; distance about 175 miles.

From Yuma City to San Diego the main difficulty has been to avoid Mexican territory. This has been nearly overcome, excepting a few miles from Coyote to Emery's; and it is thought the line can be built north of this boundary, but it will be at considerable increase of labor and expenditure. The line from Yuma to San Diego will be about 165 miles. Total length of line, about 565 miles.

The poles for the entire line are already provided, at au average cost of $1.40 delivered, but none have yet been delivered.

The soldiers are getting their muscles strengthened for the labor of excavating the post holes.

Three parties will be placed in the field, and the work pushed forward as rapidly as the difficulties to be encountered will permit. The party which is to be charged with the construction of the line from Tucson to Maricopa Wells will probably commence work on or before the 25th inst. Another party will leave here as soon as the material arrives (which will probably be in about ten days) for Fort Yuma, Cal. The third party will be the last fitted out, and build the section front Yuma to Maricopa Wells and Tucson: This latter party will be detained on account of the very hot weather which prevails there during the summer, the thermometer reaching frequently 120 during the day and 90 at night. The reputation of Yuma for heat is well illustrated by a story which is told to the effect that a soldier who died at the fort, shortly after his decease returned for his blanket, finding no place in the other world as hot as lie had been accustomed to in this life.

Each of these parties will have a foreman of construction, electricians, soldiers who will act as escort and dig post holes, and take with them water, provisions, material and general baggage teams, etc.

The electrician or operator will do the splicing and superintend the stringing of the wires, and be furnished with telegraph instruments, so that their daily progress may be reported to the starting point.

Mr. George H. Wilson, foreman, and R. H. Howe, operator, left here on Sunday last for Prescott, Arizona, to commence work as soon after arrival there as possible.

Mr. Thomas E. Atkinson will be the operator sent with the second party, the foreman of which has not yet been appointed. The third appointment as operator will probably be accepted by Mr. Wm. Ellison.

Operators receive $100 per month, coin, and rations until the line is completed, by which time they will probably have won the confidence of the Territorial or U. S. Government officials, who will appoint them to fill the offices on the line, which will be at Tucson, Prescott, Maricopa Wells, Yuma, Phoenix and San Diego. Repair and other offices must be opened on the completion of the line, or else the San Diego and Yuma repairers will have each 100 miles of line to look after, and must make their trips on horseback, through territory where sometimes no water can be found for forty miles. The repairers at other offices will also have long beats, but with not quite as bad country to cross.

The San Diego beat, on the Western Union line, extends north twenty-five miles, for most of which distance the line must be inspected on horseback when trouble occurs, as the line does not keep the road, but is built on an air line, without regard to hill or dale, plain or precipice, and is so nearly the color of the earth as to render it almost impossible to see it. Unless the repairer rides under the line he takes great chances of going beyond the break, in order to keep the road.



Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:December 24, 2005 by: Elton Gish;