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First Telegraph Line across the Continent: Charles Brown's 1861 Diary
Edited by Dennis N. Mihelich and James E. Potter

The transcontinental telegraph was a remarkable technological feat that had major consequences for the West and the nation as a whole. Yet relatively little has been written about it.

Recently re-discovered in the Smithsonian Institution collections, this previously unpublished diary is the only known extensive source written about the day-to-day construction of one segment of the first transcontinental telegraph line.

Brown's lively narrative is filled with period detail about individuals, road ranches, attitudes toward Indians, public promotion of the spirit of Manifest Destiny, difficulties facing construction crews, the nature of frontier law enforcement, and even the issues of secession and Civil War.

"Brown's perception, insights and lively style make this a great narrative."
--John D. McDermott, author of Guardians of the Pacific Telegraph and many books on the western experience

"Editors Dennis Mihelich and James Potter have performed a great service to historians by publishing Charles H. Brown's diary. . . . Nicely arranged, edited, and illustrated, no trail library should be without First Telegraph Line across the Continent: Charles Brown's 1861 Diary." -Overland Journal

Read the book's prologue here. The file is a 1MB PDF. If you can't open it, download Adobe Reader (free software).


$14.95 / NSHS Members $13.46
(plus tax & shipping)
Softcover, 133 pages, illustrated, with introduction, epilogue, index, and bibliography.

Published by Nebraska State Historical Society Books and available from NSHS Landmark Stores
To order: 1-800-833-6747

Publication of this book was made possible by The Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, and use of this Fund for this purpose is made in memory of Wayne Kemper Parks (1909-1995) and Hazel Virginia Hill Parks (1911-1991), lifelong Nebraskans who were born on Madison County farms, were married on March 19, 1930, and were farmers in Madison and Pierce counties.


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