First telegraph company in Texas chartered
On this day in 1854, the first telegraph company in Texas was chartered. The Texas and Red River Company opened its first office in Marshall on February 14, offering patrons connections with New Orleans via Shreveport and with Alexandria, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi. Wires were strung from treetop to treetop, and in many instances telegraph operators closed the offices and rode along the lines to make repairs when the wind swaying the trees caused breaks in the wires. By 1870 there was an estimated 1,500 miles of telegraph wire in Texas. Expansion was rapid up to 1890 as the transcontinental railroads completed lines across the state. By 1943 the Western Union Telegraph Company, which had begun operating in Texas in 1866, was the only telegraph company still operating in the state. The company closed the Marshall telegraph office--the oldest in the state--in 1972.