Number, please. Telephone service is coming to town | Heart of the Valley | Shirley Contreras – Heart of the Santa Maria Valley
In 1860, just 16 years after Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and typed the words “What God Hath Wrought” to inaugurate the first lines, the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Company built a telegraph line from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The charge to listen to a 10-word message on this one-wire line was $2.50, roughly equivalent to three days’ pay for the average worker.
When the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company built the first long-distance line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, completing the project in 1894, it generally followed the route of the first telegraph wires.
According to General Telephone Company records, the Sunset company, in its drive to build a long-distance line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, introduced the first telephone service to Santa Maria in 1891. The entire Sunset project was completed in 1894.
Shirley Contreras lives in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. She can be reached at 623-8193 or [email protected] Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories she has written for the Santa Maria Times since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.