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First Transcontinental Telegraph

In 1859, the California legislature offered $6,000 a year for the first overland telegraph. This was followed by an act of the United States Congress on June 16, 1860, pledging $40,000 a year for ten years for carrying government messages. With these inducements, the first work was begun in 1860, but by the end of that year the line ran only to Fort Kearny, Nebraska, from the east and to Fort Churchill, Nevada, from the west.

There was some question of which route should be followed over the Rocky Mountains. The Western Union and Missouri Telegraph Company informed Colorado residents that if they would subscribe $20,000 worth of stock in the enterprise, the company would run the line through Denver, otherwise, the emigrant and mail route over South Pass would be followed. The support in Colorado did not come, and the telegraph was pushed across Wyoming in the summer and fall of 1861. The lack of trees along much of the western route posed a considerable construction problem, but in the fall of 1861, the transcontinental telegraph carried the first message from New York to San Francisco. The remains of the telegraph poles have long since disappeared, but it passed along the emigrant trail in front of this sign.

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This historic marker is located on a walking path loop on Highway 28 just west of Farson, stopping here you can see all these markers: