Telegraph lines to go up soon
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Telegraph poles have reached Hat Creek, there is no wire on them yet but that should be accomplished within a few days.
W. H. Hibbard, superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Co., is in charge of the crews constructing the line. The line as it is being extended north of Fort Laramie is known as the Cheyenne and Black Hills Telegraph Co. In order to help finance the building of the line Hibbard has been selling script to businessmen in Deadwood Gulch, Custer City and Cheyenne. The script can then be used to pay for sending of telegrams after the line is complete. Construction of the line will also fill a crucial need for fast communications for the stage company as well as the military agencies.
The Army is helping by providing armed escorts to protect the work crews building the line. Troops so engaged are also to aid in construction as much as possible. Army wagons are busy hauling supplies to various posts and campaigns can not be directly provided to the telegraph line construction. However they can on an empty leg of their trips haul poles, wire, insulators or other supplies as long as it does not interfere with their military supply responsibilities.
Lieutenant Taylor from Camp Hat Creek has been sending a detail of his 23rd Infantry out each day now for several weeks to escort and aid in the construction of the line.
The telegraph line is along the stage line most of the way and telegraph stations are being established at the important stage stops. The crews are progressing at a good rate considering the size of the undertaking. Poles are being cut as near to the line as possible and set at a rate of 20 per mile. That will take about 4,400 poles to complete the line from Fort Laramie to Deadwood. They are using whatever kind of poles that are available in 18 foot lengths with a minimum top diameter of 4 inches, about half of them are Cottonwood and they are being set at least three and a half feet deep.
(Information sources: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Route by Agnes Wright Spring, Fort Laramie in 1876 by Paul L. Hedren.)