Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Telegraphing With a Steam Whistle


While Edison, then a boy, was living in Port Huron he found one of those opportunities to distinguish himself that seem to be always falling in the way of some men. The anecdote is related in "The Life and Inventions of Edison," recently published.

It was near the end of an exceptionally severe winter, and the ice had formed in such masses as to sever the cable between Port Huron and the Canadian city of Sarnia. The river, a mile and a half wide, was impassable, and multitudes of people were greatly inconvenienced.

Edison, who had just learned to telegraph, saw a way out of the difficulty. Jumping upon a railway engine, he began to whistle in the rhythmic cadences of the Morse alphabet:

"Hullo, Sarnia! Sarnia, do you get what I say?"

No answer.

Again and again the short and the long toots shaped themselves into the dots and dashes of telegraphy, and finally some one on the other side became alive to their meaning. The answer came back, clear and cheery, and communication between the two cities was resumed.

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