Tim the Telegrapher

Ashland Railroad Station 150th Anniversary – Tim Carter the Telegrapher

On September 14, 2019, I had the distinct honor to sit at the actual telegrapher’s desk in the historic and restored Ashland NH, railroad station as part of their 150th anniversary.

A member of the Ashland Historical Society, John Dufrat, applied for a special event callsign from the FCC. I used W1A all day instead of my personal callsign.

Real telegraphers sent their messages over miles and miles of wires that ran along the railroad tracks.

Those wires have long since vanished, so I re-enacted the part by sending Morse code using a traditional brass straight key and the invisible electromagnetic waves traveled through the air across the Atlantic Ocean and to other operators in the USA.

The general public that came for the festivities really enjoyed hearing the di’s and dah’s. Many asked me all sorts of questions, not the least of which was why telegraphers wore green visors. Do you know the answer? I do. Put your guess in the comments below to see if you’re right. Tell me why they also wore the sleeve socks you see me wearing.

Here’s a photo of the page from my logbook.

W1A logbook

Here are all the stations I contacted from the Ashland Railroad station on September 14, 2019 using the W1A callsign.

10 thoughts on “Tim the Telegrapher

  1. The sleeve socks were to protect the cuffs and sleeves of the shirt. The arms were constant on the desk that would easily wear-out the sleeves Also to protect it against the ink.

  2. I believe the visors were used to reduce eye strain due to overhead lighting. The sleeve socks perhaps were worn to protect the shirt sleeves from dirt and or wear and tear.

  3. Very interesting! I assume the sleeve socks were to prevent wearing out the operator’s sleeves and cuffs. If you set there for a long period with your arms on the desk your shirt sleeves would be worn out at the elbows, cuffs and between.
    I assume the early lights (incandescent with clear globes) or even candle light would be harsh for someone doing close work and focusing on detail work for long periods. The green shade would help ease eyestrain, much as the reason we were sunglasses today in bright or harsh light.

  4. Was it because of the old spark based signaling? Instead of a speaker it would create a small spark. You would stare at the arc that was made with the spark gap. That is like welding and is hard on the eyes. Arcs cause UV light which would burn the skin hence the socks?

    • Hal, nope but that was a good try. In your example, the telegraphers would need a face shield. Look at the orientation of the green visor for the clue. And you’re way way off on the sleeve socks. It’s much simpler.

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