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Electrical Detection

June 2024
1min read

Joseph Stimson’s photographic portrayal of Diamondville (October/November 1985) clearly shows that the amenities of the modern industrial world were making little impact on that Wyoming city in 1903. Note the total absence of any sort of paving on the main street, the crude wooden sidewalk, and the ever present “chic sale” in the vicinity of each of the residences. There was one notable exception, though, that the famed Western photographer captured with his lens—the impact of electricity.

Although the caption refers to telegraph lines, this could hardly be the case. A small residential/industrial area like this one would probably have one lone telegraph station, and that down at the railway depot. A total of only one or two wires would convey all the telecommunications such a community could handle through dots and dashes. The utility poles shown to the right each bear twenty insulators on their two crossarms, a clear indication of a telephone system. Undoubtedly the residents had on the walls of their houses conventional oaken hand-cranked telephones, each with its own individual ring on a party line. The utility poles to the left of the picture have four insulators on their single crossarm, and rather hefty wires are shown running off to the far left. Further, there are innumerable individual poles scattered through the residential and industrial sectors, surely to feed electrical current to individual users. The big mystery to me lies in the lack of wires erected on any of the poles except for those three at the left. 1 suspect Stimson caught the locale at the time the electricians from the big city were busy wiring up this otherwise bleak company mining town.

If my suppositions are correct about the evidences of the electrical age, the community’s entrance into the world of Edison and Bell was taking place only about two decades into the bare beginnings of that age. Wonder if the road builders and plumbers ever caught up?

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