Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/29

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23
THE DEVELOPMENT OF TELEPHONE SERVICE

graph and electric-light men to thoroughly inspect the condition of pipes and wires. Following this inspection came a banquet of nine courses, at which eight different wines were served to more than a hundred guests. Referring to proposed drastic legislative action to force the wires underground, David Brooks wrote on March 13, 1882:

I have every reason to believe that the great quantity of poles and wires that are now so objectionable in our streets may be dispensed with in the future, and while the company is so earnestly engaged in testing this problem of underground wires, I can see no good result to be obtained by the passage of these bills. It will be to their interest to make an underground system whenever it is practicable.

The attitude of the parent Bell company on the underground question is shown in President Forbes' annual report dated March 18, 1882, in which he states that

our experiments in underground cables, while not as successful as we had hoped, have given sufficient promise of satisfactory results to warrant us in undertaking at considerable expense to test the different methods. With this object, we have asked permission to put down cables in Boston, and, as soon as the needed consent is obtained, we propose to make careful and thorough practical tests of the best systems offered. . . . The cost of replacing an extensive overhead system in a large city is so serious that it can not be hastily decided upon; yet, if the wires can be laid underground and made to work rightly, at a cost which will not be prohibitory, it is hoped that the service will be better than now, and the cost of operating less than by overhead wires.

The first Morse telegraph patent of June 20, 1840, refers to the wires being laid underground, and a portion of his first telegraph line was buried, but proved inoperative, while on a section built with the aid of cattle-horns used to support the line on and insulate it from a stone viaduct, good service was secured. But the first American patent for underground lines was issued in 1869, and it was the only one issued until 1873, when two more were issued. A total of twenty-one patents were issued prior to 1880, when, in that year, seventeen were issued, and twenty-eight in 1881. Aerial as well as underground conduits, evidently based on the old Graves method of 1858, or the Carter of 1875, were also suggested as a remedy for the multiplicity of overhead, wires, and elaborate systems supported upon iron posts or columns erected either on one side of a street or overarching the roadway and supporting the wires in the center were made, upon paper, to appear very attractive, and earnestly advocated as a practical public improvement. In fact, the opinion was expressed at the third telephone convention held at Saratoga Springs, that

with a light and ornamental aerial cable support the requirements of the public could be satisfied and the introduction of subterranean wires obviated entirely or confined wholly to important trunk routes. ... The Scott elevated wire-way system consists of cupolas located upon housetops, separated at any convenient distance and connected by a suitable tube, through which wires to the number of two or three hundred are drawn and properly connected at the cupolas. The