The Morse Telegraph Club, Inc.
was founded at Los Angeles, Calif. in April 1942 to perpetuate the knowledge
and traditions of telegraphy and American Morse Code, to foster and maintain
friendship among telegraphers and to honor Samuel Finley Breese Morse
for his invaluable contribution to society.
The club was reorganized in January 1973 in Illinois with local chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Annually at a banquet meeting, on the last Saturday of April, each
chapter commemorates Prof. Morse's birthday, April 27, 1791.
At these affairs local telegraph circuits usually
provide "background music," and in some cases intercity circuits are
established by means of adaptive equipment which enables telephone circuits to
be used as Morse "wires."
Western Union annually set up a Morse
circuit on the last Saturday of April to connect our chapters together. Since
that time we have relied on John "Ace" Holman's brain child, “
Dialup Morse,” for communication
between chapters and the results have been a very pleasant surprise.
We've almost imperceptibly changed from an informal
group of working telegraphers into a living history group. Thanks to a computer
system, a great deal of nuts-and-bolts type information about the
telegraph telegraphy is being preserved, and we frequently are called upon
to answer questions about the age of Morse telegraphy. Movie makers and such
places as Disneyland have asked for technical advice and used us to find
equipment and operators.
Membership is open to anyone that has an interest in the
history and technology of the telegraph.
Landline telegraphy antedates wireless more than 50
years. Professor Morse's invention, the first practical electric device, was
the actual beginning of the electronic communication age.
Most early radio operators, commercial and amateur,
came from wire telegraph ranks and used the original Morse code on the air.
Eventually the need for uniformity when working European ship and shore
stations brought about adoption of International Morse for radio work - the
sinking on the Titanic was the catalyst.
Our prime focus is landline telegraph; its invention,
equipment, operation and code - meaning "American" Morse.
In addition to Western Union, Postal telegraph and
railways, the telegraph was used extensively by pipelines, packing houses,
stock brokers, radio broadcasters, telephone companies (for long lines order
wires), large manufacturers and many other firms.
C.W. operators are descendants of Morse-era telegraphers
and you can learn about the pioneer days from the pages of our quarterly paper,
DOTS & DASHES. Most of our members were railroad telegraphers so
there is something of a rail flavor in D&D, but we don't think
that will offend anyone!
Despite the fact that manual telegraphy was largely
abandoned more than 25 years ago, we can still grow. The reason for this is the
pride in our craft (and affection for the fellowship many of us once enjoyed as
Order of Railroad Telegraphers members) is not dead.
Wholly apart from MTC, informal convocations of
operators in such widely separated places as Bangor, Me., Saskatoon, Sask.,
Minot, N.D. and Pittsburg, Texas have occurred in the last two years. All
around the country, depot museums are being equipped for Morse operation by
former ops who don't know (yet) of our existence. At Milepost 50 we may be over
the hill, but we're still a long way from the final terminal!