Early Telegraphy West of the Rocky Mountains, EC & M mentioned

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

New York, NY, United States
vol. 12, no. 526, p. 194, col. 3

A Compliment to Mr. John R. Yontz .- Reminiscences

of Early Telegraphy West of

the Rocky Mountains.





"Mr. JOHN R. YONTZ, who has resigned the managership of the American District Telegraph Company, was agreeably surprised yesterday morning. He was requested by Mr. Cunningham to attend morning inspection of the boys, when in a few appropriate remarks he presented Mr. Yontz, on behalf of the boys and employes of the company, with a beautiful gold headed cane. Mr. Yontz thanked them, and concluded by giving the boys some sound advice and sketches of his own history, he having joined the telegraph ranks at the age of fourteen. Mr. Yontz is one of the must practical as well as theoretical telegraphers on the Pacific coast."-San Francisco Morning Call, July 30.

The above is a compliment to a deserving and popular young telegrapher. I have known the subject of this article for many years, and can fully endorse the concluding sentence. "Johnny," as he is familiarly called by his intimate telegraphic friends, is one of the first telegraphers on the Pacific coast, having been in the employ of the California State Telegraph Company, Alta Telegraph Company, United States Telegraph Company and the Western Union Telegraph Company-the latter being the successor of all the former consolidations. Mr. Yontz has been with the above companies for the space of seventeen or eighteen years. All the old operators will remember him as the pioneer operator during the building of the Overland Telegraph across the continent, he having been detailed for duty at the end of the line to intercept the Pony Express from the eastern side and transmit the war news to the Associated Press of California, consisting at that time of the Alta California, San Francisco Bulletin and Sacramento Union; the shelter of his office often being the shady side of the flavory sage brush, and his furniture a candle box for a table, and a chair such as the native Indians use.

Those were the palmy days of telegraphing west of the Rocky Mountains; then we had James Street, contractor and. constructor; W. R. Yontz, manager of the San Francisco office, both having since gone to that home "from whose bourne no traveler returns;" Geo. S. Ladd, then secretary of the California State Telegraph Co., now President of the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Co., and of the American District Telegraph Co.; John Leach, operator, now chief operator with the Western Union at Sacramento, Cal.; F. L. Vandenburgh, line builder and General Superintendent of the Central Pacific Railroad since its existence, now also General Superintendent of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Co.; George Senf, better known as "Graphy," now manager of the Western Union Virginia City office; J. G. Bloomer, then manager of the Virginia office, now manager of the San Francisco Atlantic and Pacific office; J. W. ("Bill") Brown, now one of the leading brokers of this city; Jne, W. Coleman, manager of Sacramento, now President of the Board of Brokers; Marsh Dent, now supposed to be in Chicago; James Guild, manager Carson City, now manager Western Union, Portland, Oregon. John C. Clowes, W. B. Hibbard and others, were pioneers on the eastern end of Salt Lake.

Mr. Yontz is full to the brim of anecdotes and reminiscences of scenes on the plains during the construction of the Overland line, and dwells with a great deal of pride (and I think justly) in having "driven the last spike" in the Overland line which connected the Atlantic to the Pacific with an artery of metal. The connection was made at 7 P. M. October 24th, 1861.

Mr. Yontz has in late years been manager of the San Francisco Western Union office, before the American District came into existence. I am not advised of his future intentions, but think he will embark in business for himself. I can assure him that he has the good wishes of all the fraternity for his future prosperity.



Keywords:Electrical Construction & Maintenance Company
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:January 13, 2006 by: Elton Gish;