Wire Trail

Telegraph poles from 1868 can still be found in the Columbia Gorge. The first line was strung that year between Troutdale and The Dalles, following an old Indian trail. Members of Troutdale Historical Society will present “Finding the Wire Trail” at the Regional History Forum presentation Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Original Courthouse in The Dalles.

“Finding the Wire Trail: Early Instant Communication in the Gorge” is the title of the Saturday, Feb. 22 program at the Original Wasco County Courthouse, 410 West 2nd Place in The Dalles. The program begins at 1:30 p.m., and is fourth in a month-long series of presentations.

News of the outside world was slow to travel to The Dalles in the 1860s. It came via steamboat from the west or the Emigrant Road from the east.

The first telegraph line was strung between Troutdale and The Dalles in 1868 following an old Indian trail. Members of Troutdale Historical Society have traced the trail and found poles from the original installation. Dave Wand is an electronic engineer who spent his career locating, building, and maintaining cell phone towers. His sister Helen Wand is a lab technician who writes novels and serves on the historical society board.

Joining them in the wire-trail study and bushwhacking adventures is Larry McGinnis, whose credentials are in surveying, including surveying for transmission lines. They combined their skills over several years tracing the path of the early telegraph line.

Admission to the program is free but donations are welcome. There is a TV monitor on the ground floor of the 1859 courthouse to serve those unable to climb the stairs. Coffee and cookies will be served after the program.

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