Top 50 Stories: 1875 - Telegraph arrives in Boise

Silver City had the first one, but Boise soon followed

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJune 14, 2014 

IDAHO STATESMAN ARCHIVES

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, but word of his death didn't appear in the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman until 10 days later.

Even though the telegraph had reached the West Coast by then, Idaho still lacked what was known as the lightning wire. Outside news came to town through dispatches delivered by stagecoach.

Silver City, then a thriving gold and silver mining town in the Owyhees, received the first telegraph line in the Idaho Territory. It was August 1874. Connection of the line was such a big event that Gov. Thomas Bennett attended.

It took another year before the line reached Boise. C.W. Moore, the founder of Idaho First National Bank (now U.S. Bank), led the effort with Statesman owner Milton Kelly, another prominent promoter.

The arrival of the telegraph allowed news, business and personal messages to flow quickly across the nation to Boise, and back. The Boise Valley no longer seemed isolated.

The first message over the line from Silver City came on Sept. 4, 1875, from W.H. Pope, superintendent of the Nevada & Northern Telegraph Co. He sent congratulations to Moore, Kelly and others.

The following May, Nevada & Northern was bankrupt. The slack was picked up a few months later by the Idaho Central Telegraph Co.

The news brought by telegraph allowed the Statesman to expand to a daily paper in 1888.

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