National Geographic : 1904 Dec
THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TELEGRAPH AN S OME very notable achievements are enumerated in the report for 1904 of General A. W . Greely, Chief Signal Officer, U. S. A. A wire less telegraph system has been estab lished between Cape Nome and Fort St Michael, which in an afternoon easily transmits 5,000 words across the 107 miles of water. The apparatus was in vented entirely by the Signal Corps en gineers. A cable of 596 miles, of Amer ican make, has been laid between Sitka and Valdes. During the year 55,559 messages were transmitted on the gov ernment lines, of which 31,020 were commercial and 26,539 official messages. The revenue of the lines is increasing very rapidly. Of the Alaskan system General Greely says in his report: " The undertaking is unique in the annals of telegraphic engineering, whether one considers the immense ex tent of territory, its remoteness from the United States, the winter inaccessi bility of the regions, the severity of the climate, the uninhabited and trackless districts, or the adverse physical condi tions. If plotted on a map of the United States this system would reach from Wyoming to the Bahamas, off the coast of Florida. The cables used would reach from Newfoundland to Ireland, and the land lines from Washington to Texas. " Its totality also comprises elements not elsewhere combined in a single sys tem-submarine, land, and wireless methods, all worked as one component and harmonious system. The entire construction of 3,625 miles includes not only 2,079 miles of cable and 1,546 miles of land lines, but also a wireless system of 107 miles. "The United States has brought southeastern Alaska, the Yukon Valley, and the Bering Straits region into tele- D CABLE LINES graphic communication with the rest of the civilized world. There yet lacks, to complete the dream of a half cen tury since of telegraphically uniting America and Asia via Bering Straits, a cable to the Asiatic shore and a Rus sian land line of about 1,500 miles to Nikolaevisk. " The Signal Corps wireless station at Nome could communicate with a similar station on the Kamchatka coast, but the infertile and sparsely inhabited country thence to the nearest Russian station of Nikolaevisk renders any such enterprise unlikely. " It is important to note that the com pletion of the Alaskan lines perfects the military intercommunicating system of the United States. The President or the Secretary of War can now reach, over strictly American lines of telegraph and cable, every important military com mand from the icy waters of Bering Strait to the tropical seas of the Sulu Archipelago, with the exception of the legation guard at Pekin. "'TheAlaskan cables were manufact ured in the United States, and are the first American-made cables to be used on a long line. " The seamless rubber cable between Sitka and Seattle, 1,070 miles in length and laid in an average depth of i,ooo fathoms and in an extreme depth of 1,700 fathoms, in addition to being less expensive in its original cost, has a transmitting power greater by 25 per cent than was mathematically calcu lated on the basis of trans-Atlantic gutta-percha cables. " The cable system of southeastern Alaska, 413 miles in length, was oper ated without interruption during the entire fiscal year, and a similar absence from interruptions has marked the ex tension of 1,070 miles to Seattle.