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Tony Salvato, Depot Telegrapher

Tony Salvato moved to Dickinson with his family from Bryan in 1902. He worked on his father’s strawberry and vegetable farm with his older brother Ben. Tony decided he was not cut out for farming and went to school to learn telegraphy and Morse Code. In 1911 Mr. Parke hired Tony as the telegrapher for the Dickinson station of the GH&H. He worked in this office for several years before being transferred to several other stations in the area and eventually to Galveston.

Samuel Morse sends the first coded message, “What hath God wrought.”

W       H      A      T            H          A          T        H            G       O          D

. _ _     . . . .   . _    _          . . . .      . _            _       . . . .       _ _ .    _ _ _     _ . .

W        R        O        U       G        H        T

. _ _    . _ .    _ _ _    . . _    _ _ .    . . . .      _

What Hath God Wrought

In 1844, Samuel F. B. Morse sent the first telegraph message from Baltimore to Washington, reading, “What hath God wrought.” The dot and dash signals made from the sound of a clacking armature were easily read, and a new craft was born ― telegraphy.

Telegraphy played a strategic role during the Civil War. Commanders communicated with their troops almost instantly. After the war, railroad and telegraph lines crossed the country. Telegraphy advanced with the railroads because the telegrapher’s primary duty was maintaining communication across the ever expanding rail system. The telegrapher was the eyes and ears of the train dispatcher.

There was some concern among telegraphers when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, but Morse code and the telegraph continued as a vital communications link for 125 years before more modern systems took over.

Written in Morse code below the text “What hath God Wrought?”

What hath God Wrought? struck in code