First Telegraph Line across the Continent: Charles Brown's 1861 Diary
The transcontinental telegraph was a remarkable technological feat that had major consequences for the West and the nation as a whole. Yet relatively little has been written about it.
Recently re-discovered in the Smithsonian Institution collections, this previously unpublished diary is the only known extensive source written about the day-to-day construction of one segment of the first transcontinental telegraph line.
Brown's lively narrative is filled with period detail about individuals, road ranches, attitudes toward Indians, public promotion of the spirit of Manifest Destiny, difficulties facing construction crews, the nature of frontier law enforcement, and even the issues of secession and Civil War.