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The Old Stagedriver’s Yosemite Yarns (1962) by Laurence Degnan and Douglass Hubbard


MUSIC OVER THE MOUNTAIN

Listening to music in Bodie over the telephone
[click to enlarge]

TELEGRAMS WERE unknown critters in Yosemite in the early days. But in 1872 communications improved quite a bit when Harlow Street and a couple of friends ran a telegraph line into the valley from Sonora. Bill Sell, the first operator, told me that the wire they stretched was salvaged from an old flume, then unstranded and spliced.

“Cyrus Field, president of Western Union, took sick once when he was visitin’ in Yosemite Valley. Bill Sell nursed him along and to sorta show his appreciation Mr. Field ordered his people to close all the telegraph switches from Yosemite to New York so Bill could have the pleasure of talkin’, with his telegraph key, clean across the country.

“In 1882 The Great Sierra Consolidated Silver Company at Tioga ran a telephone line across the crest of the Sierra, from Lundy to Bennettville. They claimed it was the world’s highest telephone. I don’t know quite how they worked it but somehow this line must have been tied in with the one from Lundy to Bodie on one end, and the Yosemite-Bodie Telephone on the other, to make a trans-Sierra hookup, ’cause Jack Leidig told me that it was great sport for the kids in Yosemite Volley to listen on the old hand-crank phone at the Sentinel Hotel to the dance hall music bein’ played in the honky-tonks clear across the mountains in Bodie.”



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