Wisconsin Chapter meetings are held on the first Friday of every month (except June, July & August), at 7:30 p.m., in the lower level meeting room of the North Shore Congregational Church, 7330 North Santa Monica Boulevard in Fox Point, Wisconsin. Click here for a Bing map and directions.
Friday, February 7, 2020 - Canst Thou Send Lightnings (Job 38:35) The Story of the Telegraph
Today’s generation is impressed by the fact that they can buy and sell stocks from their smart phone or make a hotel reservation via the Internet. They call it a revolution. Yet, when placed within the context of the broad sweep of human history, the Internet is a mere refinement compared to the impact of the telegraph.
The telegraph is often portrayed as a simplistic device. Old western movies, history text books and other documents reduce it to a mere footnote in the history of our nation’s cultural and economic development. Yet, it was the telegraph that made the standardization of time possible. It was the telegraph that made safe rail transportation possible. It laid the foundations for press syndication and electronic news gathering and made distributed manufacturing possible and began a trend that culminates in today’s “just in time inventory” systems.....and those on-line stock transactions? It was the telegraph that transformed formerly local stock and commodities exchanges into worldwide engines of capitalism and economic development.
Contrary to popular belief, the telegraph did not vanish with the invention of the telephone. Many North American railroads used it extensively into the 1970s and some legacy railroad telegraph systems live on the into the mid-1980s.
The Internet is certainly a great step forward, but the truth is, the Internet evolved out of multiplexing and automation techniques pioneered by the telegraph companies. Even the telephone company utilized telegraphy extensively for its own internal communications and specialized business services.
“Canst Thou Send Lightning” tells the story of the telegraph. By honoring the telegraph industry and the pioneers who made it possible, one can better understand our modern telecommunications and media industries. Most importantly, one will learn that despite our technological progress, the nature of man evolves slowly, with technology simply playing a supporting role to the best and worst of human nature.
About the Speaker:
James Wades serves as International President of the Morse Telegraph Club, an association of retired railroad and commercial telegraphers, telegraph industry employees, historians and others with an interest in the history of telecommunications. In the past he has worked in the broadcast industry as well as the Class One railroad sector.
Mr. Wades is currently employed as a senior electrical engineer for Pintsch Tiefenbach US, Inc., one of the World’s leading manufacturers of railroad signal systems utilizing the axle counting principle. He has worked with the North American Class One Railroads on various signal and communications projects ranging form yard automation to train control and grade crossing systems. He also serves on two American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) industrial standards committees.
Of course, Mr. Wades is also proficient in both the American Morse Code formerly utilized in railroad and commercial telegraphy, as well the International Morse Code utilize in military, maritime, and amateur radio communications.
Friday, March 6, 2020 - Please join us as Fred Hyde takes us on a photographic tour of The Milwaukee Road’s Lines East of Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Fred says, "As is well known, the Milwaukee Road abandoned many miles of trackage in 1980, shrinking from a 10,000-mile-plus railroad to a 2900-mile regional system. I first became acquainted with the Milwaukee upon reading Blair Kooistra’s Trains Magazine 1979 article, "Two More Mountains to Cross," and always made plans to go out and photograph the Road -- I had never thought that the US would let such a large abandonment occur….but it happened before I could make the journey to experience this history and ambiance of the system.
"In 1980, I began graduate school at the University of Minnesota, an ideal place to use as a jump-off point to see the remaining part of Lines West and the rarely-visited Dakotas. While I did get west to make photos of the sparsely-traveled main line, I focused more heavily on the “Lines East” segments, capturing images of the mainlines and secondary routes radiating out of Chicago, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
"My program contains images created between September, 1979 and the last of the remaining Milwaukee corporate history in 1988.
I hope that you will enjoy viewing the scenes as much as I enjoyed creating them."
Friday, April 3, 2020 - Wisconsin native Eric T. Hendrickson, network and special projects director for CSX, will present a program on that railroad system's evolving network, and initiatives honoring law enforcement and others. More info to come
Friday, May 1, 2020 - Federal Railroad Administration's Dave Sima presents "Modern day regulation of steam locomotives and other FRA regulatory actions." More info to come