Cable Across The Pacific

On this day, December 14, 1902, work begins one what would become one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of commercial and industrial America. Here’s the story:

Cable Across The Pacific – By Daniel W. Sheridan (Twitter:@DanielWSheridan)

The laying of the Commercial Pacific Cable was one of the greatest accomplishments of the commercial and industrial history of America: crossing the Atlantic with a telegraphic cable.

The Silverton_Pacific CableOn this day, December 14, 1902, the cable ship Silvertown, of the India Rubber Gutta-percha and Telegraph Company, sailed from San Francisco on a mission to lay telegraphic cable across the Pacific.

They laid 17 nautical miles on the 15th, they were up to 259 on the 16th, increasing their output to average about 200 miles of laid cable per day. These brave men worked through the holiday having laid a total of 2,109 nautical miles by the end of Christmas day. After two weeks of intense labor they made were close to Honolulu having laid 2,277 miles of cable. Check out this graph:


From that beautiful island paradise, on January 1, 1903, they sent a successful test message. A few days later the system was up and running and available to the public. Later that summer cables were extended from Honolulu to Midway, from Midway to Guam, and finally from Guam to Manila.

Silverton Cable DeckA contemporary writer wrote praised the work saying it “speaks volumes for the energy and resources of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company. And it is particularly gratifying that this great enterprise has been achieved by private capital and without aid from the Government.”

On July 4 of 1903 President Roosevelt sent the first message from Long Island, New York, to Governor Taft at Manila. It read,

“I open the American Pacific cable with greetings to you and the people of the Philippines.”

Taft Responded congratulated the President saying the cable “will certainly lead to closer union and a better mutual understanding of each other’s aim and sympathies and of their common interest in the prosperity of the Philippines and the education and development of the Filipinos.”

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