Dandy Conklin, One of the First Train Despatchers, and his Connection to Bristol

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Nov 19 15:20:08 EST 2018

Mr. Burnett,

Would you mind to share the web site of the Telegraph Wire?

I am an amateur radio operator and use International Morse Code on the air.  I was at the dedication of the restored depot in Rural Retreat last October and enjoyed talking with the volunteer telegraph operators during my visit.  I would like to try to decipher this form of Morse Code.

Many thanks.

Rick Huddle

Delaware, OH

From: NW-Mailing-List <nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org> on behalf of NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 12:21 PM
To: N&W Mailing List
Subject: Dandy Conklin, One of the First Train Despatchers, and his Connection to Bristol

As a few of you know, we now have an operating Telegraph Wire over the Internet.  There are about 25 of us who play on the wire, and the restored N&W depot at Rural Retreat is also on the wire.  (No, this isn't that beep-beep radio stuff, this is a genuine, old time Telegraph wire using click-click Telegraph sounders made of wood and brass...)

My role on the wire is to be the historian and set up old history articles for auto-transmission in Dots-and-Dashes.  I now have well over 1,000,000 words of text set up to run auto-transmit when the wire isn't being used for conversations.  If run continuously, that is enough material to run continuously, day and night, for 6 days at 35 words per minute.  Most of the material is from old railroad periodicals and dates from the 1860s to about 1900.

One of the men who has been in my crosshairs for a number of years is "Dandy" Conklin (1831-1905,) who was employed as a telegraph operator nine months before the world's first Train Order was sent in late 1851, and was one of the first several men to dispatch trains.  I searched high-and-low for information on Dandy, the main impediment being that he was always referred to as "D.H. Conklin," without use of his first name.

Lady Luck was with the effort, and finally a 1902 article led to some personal details about him, by which I was able to track him down and even find his 1905 obituary.  The obituary revealed that he was in Bristol from 1890 to 1894.

Dandy Conklin's life story is now rather complete, and it is a fascinating one and has been set up for auto text transmit on our Telegraph wire.

I am attaching Dandy's story as a PDF, and there is even a photograph of him at the end.  If you read the article, you will find it contains some strange looking two-letter combinations.  Those are just our Morse conventions for sending the punctuations:  apostrophe, colon, hyphen, dash, quotation marks, parentheses, and the like, and they have to be included in the auto-transmit text for the Morse to sound right when coming over the wire and read on a telegraph sounder.  (You will also see the wire signal E5, which means to pay special attention to the following difficult word and copy it exactly as sent.)

Hope you will enjoy meeting Dandy Conklin - he must have been a real character.

-- abram burnett

dot-and-dash guy

                  Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
Successor to the MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH LINE of 1844
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