Insulator History

Washington to Baltimore Line - 1844


Publication: The Chicago Tribune

Chicago, IL, United States
p. 6


The Man Who Helped Prof. Morse Out of a


Washington Critic: Some months since the Critic published a number of interesting incidents connected with the early history of telegraphy in this country, which, having attracted the attention of Mr. W. H. Ward, managing director of the Ward Axle, Brake & Coupling Company at Monongahela City, Pa., he contributes to the Republican of the latter place a chapter of his own experience as the advisory assistant of Prof. Morse in making his first experiments. Mr. Ward says:

"In April, 1844, the start for laying was made from Washington by trying it under a process by a Mr. Cornell of Ithaca, N. Y., himself as the superintendent of the work, by laying the wires, incased in lead pipe, eighteen inches underground. When the first 600 feet were laid it was discovered that the recording pen, of three points, showed weakness, and with the second 600 feet additional weakness, and when the third 600 feet was added the pen refused to make legible impressions on the paper as then used. Then the professor hastened to the Patent-Office in a fever of excitement to consult with the writer what to do, for the professor frankly stated that all his hopes had now gone up, and he seemed as helpless as a wet rag. But when told to hang it up he immediately recovered his electric . . . [illegible text] . . ., sprang to his feet, and went for the men who were anxiously awaiting his return. He said: 'The problem is solved by hanging up wires,' and it was. The next day Prof. Morse and the writer settled on glass insulators, and for economy obtained gratis the necks of beer and porter bottles from Baltimore and Washington hotels; and at the meeting of the Whig nominating convention in May, 1844, the line was completed to the Relay Station, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and June 2 to Baltimore."


Keywords:Insulator : Morse : Ezra Cornell
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Glenn Drummond
Date completed:July 4, 2009 by: Glenn Drummond;