Telegraph Club, Inc.
was founded at Los Angeles, Calif. in April 1942 to perpetuate the
knowledge and traditions of telegraphy and American Morse Code, to
foster and maintain friendship among telegraphers and to honor Samuel Finley Breese Morse
for his invaluable contribution to society.
The club was reorganized in January 1973 in Illinois with local chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Annually at a banquet meeting, on the last Saturday of April, each chapter commemorates Prof. Morse's birthday, April 27, 1791.
At these affairs local telegraph circuits usually provide "background music," and in some cases intercity circuits are established by means of adaptive equipment which enables telephone circuits to be used as Morse "wires."
Until 1989, Western Union annually set up a Morse circuit on the last Saturday of April to connect our chapters together. Since that time we have relied on John "Ace" Holman's brain child, “ Dialup Morse,” for communication between chapters and the results have been a very pleasant surprise.
We've almost imperceptibly changed from an informal group of working telegraphers into a living history group. Thanks to a computer system, a great deal of nuts-and-bolts type information about the telegraph telegraphy is being preserved, and we frequently are called upon to answer questions about the age of Morse telegraphy. Movie makers and such places as Disneyland have asked for technical advice and used us to find equipment and operators.
Membership is open to anyone that has an interest in the history and technology of the telegraph.
Landline telegraphy antedates wireless more than 50 years. Professor Morse's invention, the first practical electric device, was the actual beginning of the electronic communication age.
Most early radio operators, commercial and amateur, came from wire telegraph ranks and used the original Morse code on the air. Eventually the need for uniformity when working European ship and shore stations brought about adoption of International Morse for radio work - the sinking on the Titanic was the catalyst.
Our prime focus is landline telegraph; its invention, equipment, operation and code - meaning "American" Morse.
In addition to Western Union, Postal telegraph and railways, the telegraph was used extensively by pipelines, packing houses, stock brokers, radio broadcasters, telephone companies (for long lines order wires), large manufacturers and many other firms.
C.W. operators are descendants of Morse-era telegraphers and you can learn about the pioneer days from the pages of our quarterly paper, DOTS & DASHES. Most of our members were railroad telegraphers so there is something of a rail flavor in D&D, but we don't think that will offend anyone!
Despite the fact that manual telegraphy was largely abandoned more than 25 years ago, we can still grow. The reason for this is the pride in our craft (and affection for the fellowship many of us once enjoyed as Order of Railroad Telegraphers members) is not dead.
Wholly apart from MTC, informal convocations of operators in such widely separated places as Bangor, Me., Saskatoon, Sask., Minot, N.D. and Pittsburg, Texas have occurred in the last two years. All around the country, depot museums are being equipped for Morse operation by former ops who don't know (yet) of our existence. At Milepost 50 we may be over the hill, but we're still a long way from the final terminal!