1920 Map of Adirondack Region Telephone Companies with Manuscript Notations

[Adirondack Regional Telephone Companies]. - Main View

1920 Map of Adirondack Region Telephone Companies with Manuscript Notations


A one-of-a-kind piece highlighting small telephone companies in the Adirondacks.


[Adirondack Regional Telephone Companies].
  1920 (undated)     74 x 82 in (187.96 x 208.28 cm)


An interesting telecommunications infrastructure piece, this is a c. 1920 map of Adirondack region telephone companies featuring manuscript annotations throughout. Dissected and mounted on linen on five sheets of varying sizes, the map depicts the region from Howe Island and Wolfe Island in the Saint Lawrence River to Lake Lila and from Prescott, Ontario to Lorraine, New York. Although the exact purpose of the maps remains unclear, it seems obvious that they were used for line maintenance and management.
Adirondacks Telephone Companies
Eight rural telephone companies are identified: Citizens Telephone Company, Rossie Telephone Company, Pope Mills Telephone Company, Macomb Telephone Company, Maple Ridge Telephone Company, Hermon Telephone Company, Edwards Telephone Company, and New York Telephone Company (formerly the North Country Telephone and Telegraph Company). The territory covered by each of these companies is outlined in red and each company is identified in black block lettering, sometimes in several places within their service area. Most of these service areas are also bordered by black lines, perhaps suggesting that the other areas are service areas for other telephone companies that remain unlabeled.
Manuscript Telephone Lines
Manuscript telephone lines stretch across all five sheets, with each line labeled numerous times and marked by differently colored dashed lines to make them easier to trace. Line 63, for example, is marked by a dashed green line and stretches form Clayton, New York and runs along the Saint Lawrence River to Alexandria Bay. Line 57, also marked by a green dashed line, runs from Carthage on the Black River in the lowermost sheet through two other sheets before ending at Benson Mines near Star Lake. Numerous other lines wind their way through the region except, as is noted in pencil, just below the town of Lafargeville east to Theresa. These pencil notations appear to be suggesting that a line connecting Line 61, Line 9, and Line 53 should be constructed below Lafargeville east to Theresa.
A Closer Look at the Printed Map
Countless towns and villages are labeled throughout the region, including Watertown, Carthage, Gouverneur, Ogdensburg, and Canton. Rivers, lakes, and swamps are also labeled. Since U.S. Geodetic Survey topographic maps provide the base upon which all the notations concerning the telephone companies were done, topographic lines are illustrated throughout, allowing the viewer an understanding of the land itself.
Publication History
As stated above, this map was compiled from several different maps published by the U.S. Geodetic Survey in the early 20th century, most likely in different years. We have been unable to pinpoint an exact date for the creation of the map, due to the lack of available information about the specific telephone companies referenced. We believe that it was compiled c. 1920 using U.S. Geodetic Survey maps that were most likely published in several different years.


The Office of the Coast Survey (later the U.S. Geodetic Survey) (1807 - present), founded in 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of Commerce Albert Gallatin, is the oldest scientific organization in the U.S. Federal Government. Jefferson created the "Survey of the Coast," as it was then called, in response to a need for accurate navigational charts of the new nation's coasts and harbors. The first superintendent of the Coast Survey was Swiss immigrant and West Point mathematics professor Ferdinand Hassler. Under the direction of Hassler, from 1816 to 1843, the ideological and scientific foundations for the Coast Survey were established. Hassler, and the Coast Survey under him developed a reputation for uncompromising dedication to the principles of accuracy and excellence. Hassler lead the Coast Survey until his death in 1843, at which time Alexander Dallas Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, took the helm. Under the leadership A. D. Bache, the Coast Survey did most of its most important work. During his Superintendence, from 1843 to 1865, Bache was steadfast advocate of American science and navigation and in fact founded the American Academy of Sciences. Bache was succeeded by Benjamin Pierce who ran the Survey from 1867 to 1874. Pierce was in turn succeeded by Carlile Pollock Patterson who was Superintendent from 1874 to 1881. In 1878, under Patterson's superintendence, the U.S. Coast Survey was reorganized as the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (C & GS or USGS) to accommodate topographic as well as nautical surveys. Today the Coast Survey is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. More by this mapmaker...


Five sheets of varying size laid down on linen. Light wear along original fold lines. All are blank on verso. Size above represents composite.