This week’s “150 Years Ago…” column features a significant piece of literature for Arkansas Civil War historians as it relates to the building up on a very important infrastructure in the South. This new infrastructure, during the early 1860’s, was akin to the current-day placement of high speed internet or other high-tech gadgets. In 1860, a group of men, known as Snow and Ketchum, began working on a new mode of communication to tie Arkansas with the rest of the world with their state-of-the-art telegraph.
The Article below, from an 1860 Little Rock newspaper, shows an advertisement placed by the Snow and Ketchum team regarding the placement of telegraph poles and the specific dimensions that each pole must be. It was this same line of telegraph that would play a crucial part in setting the stage later for rumors regarding the 2nd U.S. Artillery stationed at the Little Rock Arsenal that nearly led to the first shots of the Civil War.
[LITTLE ROCK] ARKANSAS TRUE DEMOCRAT, May 12, 1860, p. 12, c. 5
5,000 Telegraph Poles Wanted!
Proposals will be received by the undersigned at the Anthony House, Little Rock, or by letter, for the supplying along side of the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad, of Telegraph Poles, of the following character and dimensions; of post oak, sassafras, or black locust, 22 feet long, straight trimmed, and not less than 8 inches at the butt, or 4 inches at the top. The poles to be delivered, singly, at the distance of 260 feet apart, along the line of the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad.
Divisions as follows: Little Rock to Brownsville—Brownsville to Duvall’s Bluff—Madison to Memphis. The divisions will be divided to suit the parties along the line. An inspector will examine the poles when delivered, and the cash paid. Those proposing between Madison and Memphis, will find an Agent at the Railroad Office in Madison. All propositions to be made in writing up to June 1st, and all contractors to commence work by the 4th June.
Snow & Ketchum.
Little Rock, May 12, 1860.