Expedition getting ready to leave

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

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



Our readers undoubtedly are aware that an expedition is fitting out in New York to carry out the grand idea of connecting, by a line of Telegraph, mostly overland, the two great continents. A few facts, of a mere outline character, to suit the limited space of our columns, may be of interest.

The world is indebted to P. McD. Collins for the grand inception of telegraphically connecting the two great continents by the way of Russia, Kamschatka, crossing Behring's Straits, thence through the Russian American Possessions to Washington Territory, where the lines already built will be connected thereto. That the plan was and is feasible, we have abundant evidence in the fact that such eminent telegraphers as J. H. Wade, President of the Pacific Telegraph, Hon. Hiram Sibley, President, and Col. Anson Stager, Superintendent of the Western Union Lines, most heartily endorsed it, and have given it their unqualified encouragement. The government of the United States, fully alive to the importance of the proposed line, has, through the officials at Washington, in the Navy Department, and through the officials connected with the Treasury Department, endeavored to facilitate the expedition, and to this end has placed at its disposal a vessel fully armed and equipped, as a representative of our flag, and, if need be, to protect the members thereof in such foreign waters as its course may lead them. The gentlemanly members of the Coast Survey Bureau, at Washington, have most earnestly entered into the objects of the expedition, knowing that results will be practically arrived at, during its progress, of the utmost importance to that branch of the public service, as well as to science and the world. The Smithsonian Institute also has been very marked in its liberality in furnishing data from old works, maps, and charts in the possession of that excellent National Institution.

To give our readers an idea of the vastness of the expedition soon to start for the frigid regions, an epitome of the material now being collected will suffice:

Two ships have been purchased, on board of which are now being placed immense quantities of all kinds of telegraphic material: - wire, insulators, instruments, batteries, tools, &c. These ships will be officered and manned by men of large experience as Arctic navigators and seamen, and the vessels themselves will, on arriving in those regions, but renew an acquaintance with an element familiar to them on former whaling cruises.

A brig has also been purchased; also, two large schooners, one of the latter being a very fast yacht of elegant model. A small light draught steamer has also been placed on board one of the above-mentioned ships, which is intended to be used in the exploration of shallow rivers and streams, and also as a tender to the fleet.

Two ocean steamers have been purchased, and will be used in connection with the expedition, in promptly transporting supplies, laying cables, etc. Thus the fleet will comprise an armed naval vessel, two ocean steamers, two ships, a brig, two schooners, and the tender - eight crafts in all - engaged in the peaceful mission of connecting the great emporiums of the old and new world by lightning.

There will be employed a large number of persons, particularly selected for their fitness and adaptation to the work required. The number of laborers alone will reach some three hundred. An efficient corps of telegraphic engineers, draughtsmen, topographical engineers, and others of attainment essential to success will accompany the expedition, and it is only necessary to say, in this connection, that gentlemen of the highest merit, and of ample experience in their distinctive departments have been selected.

The first delegation has already been sent to San Francisco, under the charge of Mr. Edward Conway, which will it is expected, make explorations as far as possible during the next three months up the Frazer River and adjacent country. The main expedition will not leave San Francisco until about the first of March next, prior to which time the whole fleet will have arrived at that port. A large number of the members of the expedition will leave this port on the vessels belonging to the fleet, but the leading members thereof will reach San Francisco via the Nicaragua route.

The number of maps, charts, books, and other printed matter it has been necessary to con over, compare, and to make notes and extracts from, in order to furnish as much information to the leaders of the expedition as possible before their arrival upon the various localities would appall any but an indefatigable student. Several very important maps and charts have been drafted, none of which have been taken bodily from any one of the heretofore recognized authorities, but compiled from a variety of sources, some of which date back to 1797. A large map on the polyconic plan has been executed by Mr. Frank L. Pope, to be used by the expedition, which contains portions of the two hemispheres never before placed upon paper in this shape. It is considered by competent judges a chef d'auvre of draughting, and by those who have traveled somewhat in that region, as the most accurate map extant. Several are in existence, but all have been found more or less subject to criticism for known defects; but these defects have been carefully avoided and rectified by Mr. Pope. It will be of immense value to the expedition, and would most certainly be rarely appreciated by the highest students of geography could it be printed. Among the books obtained for the use of the different members is an edition of the "Chinook Jargon," the idiomatic composition of which would seem to throw the ancient Sanscrit into the shade. It telegraphic transmission, however, is said to be not a very difficult matter, inasmuch as it is comprised mainly of an agglomeration of guttural sounding consonants, which could easily be surmounted by the newly invented repeaters. This may probably furnish another instance to the philosopher who claimed that all new inventions were destined to overcome some ancient speciality [sic] specialty and if our telegraphic system can make the "Chinook Jargon" intelligible, the world of letters and of astute science may well congratulate itself upon a modern scientific conquest.

Of course, for an expedition which is destined to traverse such high latitudes, and where much will be dependent upon accuracy of information to be derived only from observations taken only from the heavenly bodies, the very best optical and astronomical instruments will be needed. These have been carefully obtained, and many of them prove to be of rare merits, many satisfactory tests having been made in this city by night and day. If these instruments prove so satisfactory in this climate, subject to the fog and smoky exhalations of this great city, they will most certainly be found to possess the most admirable properties, claimed for them by their makers, upon being practically tested in those regions where the smoke of civilization disturbs not the rarified atmosphere so freely inhaled by only the white bear, the walrus, and the adventurous whaleman.

To facilitate the movements of the expeditionary force, and also to be prepared to meet the natives in all comity, an experienced interpreter has been attached to the corps. A surgeon has also been put upon the staff, whose medical abilities and advice will no doubt enable the force employed to retain that robust health and physical energy so essential to the success of the enterprise.

By the above outline, the intelligent reader can easily comprehend the vastness of the enterprise undertaken, and will easily discern that a master mind is at the head of the expedition, which grasps at once the various difficulties to be encountered, and provides thoroughly the means of surmounting them. That success to the fullest extent will crown the toils, the dangers, the hopes, the fears, and the grand anticipations of the projectors of this stupendous work, there can be no doubt; and, through the blessing of Divine Providence, brought down upon the exertions of this little band, in those far-off Arctic regions, by their own prayers, united with the holy aspirations of the dear ones at home, we all, in common with the enlightened community in which we dwell, shall eagerly listen for the first click of the instrument, announcing that space is annihilated, and that the two greatest nations on the globe are indissolubly united in fact, as they have been for years in fraternal feeling.


Keywords:Collins Overland Telegraph : Jeptha Wade
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:November 13, 2005 by: Elton Gish;