Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/32

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26
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Mansfield, a distance of about five miles. The cable was made by Eugene F. Phillips in sections of five hundred and thirty feet, and connected by means of junction boxes, and he gave the readers of the Electrical World (March 4, 1899), an interesting account of the manner in which the cable was laid. In part, Mr. Phillips said:

In 1882 the American Bell Telephone Company, wishing to make some practical experiments on telephonic transmission with underground wires, ordered of us a cable to be 5 miles in length, containing twenty-one wires of No. 20 B. & S. gauge, a majority of which were to be insulated with rubber and the balance braided with cotton and paraffined; part of the conductors to be covered with tinfoil, and part twisted in pairs for metallic circuit; also a single conductor of No. 13 B. & S. gauge braided and paraffined. We believe this was the first underground experiment made for the American Bell Telephone Company, and the laying of this cable was a red letter day for us. The American Bell sent an engine and one open-end freight box car, which carried the 5 miles of cable we had already made to Attleboro, as well as fifty men for a working force. In laying this cable a trench was started by means of pick and shovel, but it was soon found the hard roadbed was by no means easy digging. A plow was borrowed of one of the farmers and attached to the outrigger from the truck of a car, pulled by an engine. As we were unable to hire oxen or horses to plow with, this idea was suggested by W. H. Sawyer, and it made a fine specimen of plowing, the like of which was probably never before witnessed. When the trench was completed, two plows had actually been consumed in the process. The cable was placed at the end of the car and paid out into the trench as the car moved along, and close behind the plow in the furrow. The filling of the trench was also another great conundrum; the gang started with shovels and hoes to do this, but it at once became evident that it would be a week's work with the force at command. Again Sawyer's inventive genius came to the rescue. At his suggestion a joist was procured, and one end lashed to the cowcatcher of the engine, the other end extending out over the trench on the side where the dirt had been thrown. The engine was started, and the entire length of the trench and cable was soon covered, much to the pleasure and satisfaction of those looking on as well as those responsible for the filling.

Notwithstanding that prior to 1890 no underground system proved satisfactory from a telephone engineer's point of view, yet the rapidity with which the telephone companies responded to the public demand that the wires be placed underground is apparent from the fact that while the underground movement started in 1881, at the close of 1884 there were 1,225 miles of wire underground, and ten years after the first telephone cables were placed underground, over 70,000 miles of wires were in subterranean ducts. To-day over one half of the total mileage of telephone circuits in use by Bell subscribers is underground, that is, nearly three million miles of copper wire are buried in the earth.

 

XII. The Effect of Electric Street Lighting ox Telephone Service

While an inability to dispose of the securities of the local companies retarded the growth in subscribers in many exchanges, in 1883-5, other causes were also hindering the expansion of the telephone in-