National Geographic : 1896 Mar
104 THE SUBMARINE CABLES OF THE WORLD But, alas, the joy over the greatest triumph of the age was des tined to be of short duration. In less than a month the cable refused to work, owing to some fault the nature of which could not be definitely ascertained. It was at last abandoned in de spair, and no further attempt to lay another one was made until 1864, when the Atlantic Telegraph Company made with the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company a contract for a new cable between Valentia and Heart's Content and char tered the steamship Great Eastern to lay it. This cable was 2,273 nautical miles* long, and its weight was 300 pounds per mile. Its laying down commenced on July 23, 1865, Mr Cyrus W. Field being on board the ship, but on August 2, after about 1,400 knots had been paid out, the cable parted and the broken end disap peared from view. The Great Eastern remained near the scene of the accident until August 11, when she gave up the attempt to recover the cable and returned to Europe. Thus another hope, another aspiration, was buried, and we may well imagine the feelings of those who had put their faith and their money into the undertaking. The story of this attempt and of the successful recovery of the lost cable a year later by means of grapnels from a depth of over 2,000 fathoms forms one of the most interesting chapters in the history of submarine telegraphy; but after all the disheart ening failures which had attended the laying of the first three Atlantic cables, the indomitable pluck and energy of Mr Field and his associates were to be finally rewarded with success. A new cable was ordered, and on July 13, 1866, the Great Eastern again started from Valentia and, without further serious mis hap, finished the laying over the whole distance on July 27, when the cable was spliced to the shore end at Heart's Content. Moreover, on September 1 following, the Great Eastern recovered the lost cable of the previous year, spliced it to the cable on board, and completed the laying of it toward Heart's Content, thus establishing a duplicate line. Ever since that time we have had uninterrupted telegraphic connection with Europe, and this 1866 cable thus became the pioneer of the long-distance, deep sea cables. Immense progress has since been made in the establishment of submarine telegraph lines. A fleet of between thirty-five and forty steamers, specially constructed and equipped for cable *A nautical mile, as defined by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, equals 6,080.27 feet, or 1.1516 statute miles.