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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Central & South American Telegraph Company
Planning and Laying the Cables

Introduction: The Central & South American Telegraph Company was formed by the American cable entrepreneur James Scrymser in 1881 after he left the International Ocean Telegraph Company.

The India Rubber, Gutta Percha and Telegraph Works Company Ltd was awarded a contract to manufacture and lay a cable from Mexico to Peru. The route was: Tehuantepec, Mexico – La Libertad, El Salvador – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – Puntarenas, Costa Rica – Balboa, Panama – Buenaventura, Colombia – Santa Elena, Ecuador – Payta, Peru – Chorillos, Peru.

These articles from publications of the time describe the surveying of the route and the manufacture of the cable, and note the importance of the system to the United States.

See also the official record of the laying of the cable and George West's story of repairing the cable between Santa Elena and Paita in May 1883.

--Bill Burns

New York Times Dec 21, 1881

THE CABLE TO SOUTH AMERICA.
GOVERNMENT PROTECTION EXTENDED TO AN IMPORTANT ENTERPRISE.

There seems to be every probability that before many months telegraphic communication will be established between this City and Vera Cruz, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, Chili, and other South American States by direct wires, and that news and business advices will be as regularly and as fully received from the countries on the west coast beyond the equator as they now are from Europe. The Central and South American Telegraph Company is pushing the construction of its land lines and laying its submarine cables as rapidly as the wires can be supplied. The steam-ship Dacia, loaded with cables, left England on Nov. 19 and Madeira on Dec. 1 for Callao, where she is expected to arrive on or about Feb. 1. The steamer International left England on Nov. 9, and with her load of cables reached Vera Cruz on Dec. 17, to begin the Vera Cruz and Coatzecoalcos section.

On Nov. 30 Mr. James A. Scrymser, President of the company, addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. William H. Hunt, stating the fact that the company had completed arrangements for establishing telegraphic communication between the United States, Mexico, Central and South America. In view of the fact that the early completion of the work would be of the greatest importance to the Government and people of the United States, and considering the disturbed political condition of Peru, the company requested the Secretary of the Navy to order such naval vessels as might be conveniently stationed on the west coast of Central and South America to facilitate the laying of the company's cables, and protect them when laid so far as possible without detriment to the Government service.

Attention was directed to the fact that in 1867-8-9-70 the Navy Department, employing the steamers Yantio and Lenape, assisted in such service in laying the Florida, Cuba, and West India cables. The material advantage of the assistance asked for, it was admitted, would be great, beside strengthening the enterprise as one of an international character. The anxiety to complete the whole line by June, 1882, led to this request, it being desired to secure all the aid the Government felt inclined to afford. Grants had been obtained from all powers interested in a territorial point of view, and the only protection asked for from the United States Government was in laying the cables in the free sea.

On Dec. 15 Secretary Hunt acknowledged the receipt of the request, commended the enterprise as one adapted to the cause of peace and calculated to advance the interests of the countries proposed to be connected by cables, and promised that the Navy Department would issue orders to Rear-Admiral Balch, commanding the Pacific squadron, to afford the countenance and assistance within his means, at the same time that he would be cautioned to see to it that the neutrality of the United States Government be strictly maintained toward the belligerent powers who might consider their rights involved in the work proposed.

The orders of the Navy Department were sent out by the mail leaving this City yesterday. The steamer International will immediately begin laying the cable from Vera Cruz along the Central American coast, while the Dacia will nay out the cable from Callao northward. The steam-ship Retriever is to accompany the expedition as a surveying steamer, and will carefully examine the soundings to be taken during the survey. The route of the system will be from Vera Cruz to Goatzacoalcos, and thence by land line across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the Pacific at Salina Cruz. From this point the cables will continue to San Jose de Guatemala, Salinas Bay, Panama, Buenaventura, Santa Elena, Payta, and Chorillos, where a connection will be made with Lima, Peru.

At Chorillas the Central and South American Company's system will join the West Coast of America Telegraph Company's lines to Valparaiso. This will not only open communication with the west coast, but will practically duplicate communication between the United States and England and the capitals of Brazil, Uruguay, Buenos Ayres, Chili, Peru, and Ecuador. Of the 3,082 knots of cable contracted for on Aug.30, 2,200 will have been manufactured on Dec. 22, and it is officially reported that 200 miles of cable will be completed hereafter every week.


The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review

1 March 1881:

The India-Rubber and Gutta-Percha Telegraph Works Company last month despatched an expedition to lay submarine cables for the Mexican Telegraph Company between Brownsville in Texas and Vera Cruz in Mexico, with a station at Tampico, and news has been received by telegraph of the completion of the section from Brownsville to Tampico. These cables will place the telegraph system of Mexico in communication with those of the United States and Europe, and the Mexican Telegraph Company intend to carry a land line across the isthmus to Tehuantepec, and lay cables thence to Panama, under contracts already obtained with the Republics of Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Columbia.

15 March 1881:

The India Rubber, Gutta Percha, and Telegraph Works Company, Limited, notify that with reference to the Mexican Telegraph Company's cable, a further telegram has been received announcing the completion of the section from Tampico to Vera Cruz, thus placing the latter in connection with the American land lines.

1 April 1881:

The Central and South American Cable Company has contracted with the Governments of Costa Rica and the United States of Columbia for a line across the Isthmus of Panama, and a working party has left Vera Cruz to make surveys and enter upon the construction of a line across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. From thence lines will connect through Nicaragua and Guatemala, opening communications with the entire West Coast.

15 August 1881:

Mr. James A. Scrymser, president of the Central and South American Telegraph Company, is said to have arrived in this country to close a contract for some three thousand miles of telegraph cable, to be laid along the Pacific coast of Central and South America from Mexico to Peru, connecting at Vera Cruz with the Mexican Telegraph Company's lines, and at Callao with the West Coast Telegraph to Valparaiso and the Argentine Republic.—Railway News.

5 November 1881:

The S.S. Hooper.—The telegraph s.s. Hooper has been bought by the India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha and Telegraph Works Company. The ship, which is to be renamed the Silvertown, is the largest cable ship afloat. Her measurements are:—Length over all, 350ft.; beam, 55ft.; moulded depth, 36ft. . gross tonnage, 4,935 tons; net register, 3,724 tons. She has three cable tanks, each 30ft. deep, and having respectively the diameters 41ft., 53ft., and 51ft., with the usual cable gear. The ship leaves England in March to assist in laying the 3,000 miles of cable now being manufactured by the company for the west coast of South America.

15 November 1881:

New Cables.—The International left the Thames on the 9th inst. for Mexico. She has on board the first section of the Central and South American Telegraph Company's cables. The section is composed of an intermediate type of cable, and will be used to connect Vera Cruz with Goatzacoaleos. This, in conjunction with the Vera Cruz, Tampico, and Tampico-Brownsville Cables of the Mexican Telegraph Company, will put the States in direct telegraph communication with the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. A land line of some 200 miles will carry the messages to the Pacific side at Salina Cruz, and then the cables continue as follows:—Salina Cruz to San Jose de Guatemala, San Jose to Salinas Bay, Salinas Bay to Panama, Panama to Buenaventura, Buenaventura to Santa Elena, Santa Elena to Payta, and Payta to Chorillos for Lima Peru. At Chorillos the Central and South American Company's system will join the West Coast of America Telegraph Company's lines to Valparaiso.

The completion of these lines will, with the existing lines on the east coast of South America, practically duplicate the telegraph communication between the United States and England and the capitals of Brazil, Uruguay, Buenos Ayres, Chili, Peru, and Ecuador. Should the Tampico-Vera Cruz section be interrupted, telegraph communication with the United States could be made via Valparaiso and the Brazilian Submarine Company's lines, and then on through the Anglo Company's lines. If the Lisbon. Madeira section of the Brazilian Submarine Company's line fail, Madeira could communicate telegraphically with Europe by sending via Pernambuco, Buenos Ayres. Valparaiso, and north through the new lines to the States, whence communication with Europe is excellent, In fact the new lines will make a perfect duplication of the existing lines by filling up a gap in the circle.

1 December 1881:

The Central And South American Cables

The India-Rubber and Gutta-Percha Telegraph Works Company's s.s. Dacia left Greenhithe on the morning of Saturday the 19th ult. having on board over 800 miles of cable for the Central and South American Telegraph Company. Stress of weather, however, compelled her to put into Plymouth and she left England finally on the Wednesday after, at daylight. It will be remembered that the s.s. International left on the 9th November with a portion of the cable for the above-named company. The loading of the Dacia was very remarkable for the speed at which the cable was coiled on board. It seems that the vessel was handed over by the Post-office authorities (who had chartered her for the recent repairs to their cables) on Monday the 7th of November. She was then docked, cleaned, painted, and moored off Silvertown on Thursday morning the 10th, leaving that place on the Tuesday evening following, having shipped the cable at the rate of 165 miles per day. This includes some slight waste of time, owing to a strike amongst the cable coilers.

The following are the stations and lengths of cable of this company:—From Vera Cruz to Goatzacoalcos, 90 miles; Goatzacoalcos is connected with Tehuantepec or Salina Cruz by a land line about 220 miles in length, the cable then continues from Salina Cruz to San Jose de Guatemala, 320 miles; from San Jose to Salinas Bay, distance 390 miles; from Salinas Bay to Punta Mala at the mouth of Panama Bay, 560 miles; from Punta Mala to Panama Town, 95 miles; from Punta Mala again to Buenaventura, 320 miles, Buenaventura to St. Elena, 500 miles; from St. Elena a branch land line of a 11o miles is run to Guayaquil; St. Elena is then connected by cable to Payta (Peru), 230 miles; the last section of this company's cable being from Payta to Chorillos, 580 miles. At Chorillos (the landing place for Lima) the line joins that already existing and belonging to the West Coast of America Telegraph Company.

The s.s. Retriever, the repairing vessel of this latter company, has been chartered to accompany the present expedition, and to thoroughly survey the route over which it is proposed to lay the cables. The India-Rubber and Gutta-Percha Company have sent out an experienced chemist to analyse the nature of the specimens taken from the bottom during sounding operations. We believe this is the first occasion on which such kind of investigations has been undertaken by a cable company, and the management at Silvertown is deserving of all credit for its meritorious endeavours to increase our knowledge of that part of the globe, of which so little is known, viz.—the ocean bed.

These operations will be carried out under the direction of Mr. E.W. Parsoné, the engineer and manager of the West Coast Company. The Retriever is very completely equipped for the purpose of these researches, having on board, besides the usual cable repairing gear, a steam sounding machine (a modification of Sir W. Thomson's wire sounding apparatus). A chemical laboratory is also fitted up on board. The intention is to take some 900 or 1,000 soundings at an average distance apart of four miles; this, of course, does not include a large number which will be taken at closer intervals near the landing places.

Up to the present all that has been considered necessary in this direction was to take soundings at intervals of about 30 or 40 miles, and in fact, when the Atlantic cables previous to 1875 were laid, the soundings numbered only 57, over a distance of 1,700 miles. It may here be added that the India-Rubber and Gutta-Percha Company were the first to use Thomson's wire-sounding machine extensively, the first experiment dating from November, 1872; and in 1875, on the same coast, whilst submerging the West Coast of America Company's cables, 460 soundings were taken over a distance of nearly 1,700 miles, exclusive of soundings for landing places.

It will be seen from the foregoing statements with what very great care the operations of this company are carried out in every detail, and we venture to say that the benefits to be derived from such a series of investigations as those mentioned above must be immense, not only to the company conducting them, but also to all who are connected directly or indirectly with shipping and commercial interests in that quarter of the world.

Out of the 3,000 and odd miles of cable ordered by the Central and South American Company, 1,750 miles are already manufactured, and the greatest turn out in one week on this order, not including any of the usual outside work, was 174 miles. In our next issue we shall probably give an account of the various types of cable to be used on this expedition.

15 December 1881:

Central and South American Telegraph Company's Cables.—As implied in our last issue, we give a brief outline and sketches of the various types of cable now being manufactured at Silvertown for the above company's line. The conductor, which is the same for all the cable, consists of a strand of 7 copper wires (No. 22 B.W.G.), weighing 107 lbs. per nautical mile, and having a conductivity 96 per cent. that of pure copper. It is insulated with two coatings of gutta-percha, with alternate layers of Chatterton's compound, and weighs 140 lbs. per N.M.

The core for the main cable is served with a sufficient quantity of jute yarn, and then sheathed with 15 No. 13 B.W.G. Homo iron wire, galvanised. The outside serving consists of two compounded tapes, laid on in an opposite direction. The core for the intermediate cable is similarly served, and then sheathed with 12 No. 6 B.W.G. best best galvanised iron wire. Outside serving similar to main cable. The shore end consists of the intermediate cable without taping, and sheathed with 14 No. 1 B.W.G. best best galvanised iron wires.

Deep Sea

Intermediate

Shore End

The insulation resistance after one minute's electrification must not be under 250 megohms per N.M., and the guarantee after laying the cable is for 30 days, when the insulation resistance must not be less than 225 megohms per N.M. reduced to 75° Fahr. by the co-efficient for G.P. in Clark and Sabine's "Tables and Formulae."

The breaking strain of main cable is 5½ tons, its weight per N.M. is 1.6 tons, that of the intermediate type 4.31 tons, and the shore end 14.64 tons. The intermediate type when submerged is to overlap the 100 fathom line, and the main cable is to be laid in as nearly as is practicable 300 fathoms, as is the case with the West Coast of America Telegraph Company's cables.

7 January 1882:

Cable Notes.—The steamship International, with the. Goatzacoalcos-Vera Cruz section for the Central and South America Telegraph Company, arrived at Vera Cruz on the 17th December, ult.

The steamship International (Mr. Theophilus Smith, engineer-in-charge), on the 3rd inst successfully completed the Goatzacoalcos-Vera Cruz section above mentioned. This forms the first section of the system to connect Vera Cruz with Lima, and the West Coast of America Telegraph Company's cables.

The steamship Dacia, loaded with cable for the same company, arrived at Rio Janeiro, on her way to the West Coast of South America, on the 19th December, ult.

21 January 1882:

Cable Notes.—The Silvertown Company received a telegram on the 14th inst. stating that the steamship Dacia, Mr. Wm. F. King, F.R.S.E., engineer in charge, arrived safely at Valparaiso on the 11th inst., and left for Callao (Lima) on the following day. All well on board. The telegram further stated that the steamship Retriever, Mr. E. W. Parsoné, engineer and manager to the West Coast of America Telegraph Company, in charge, was expected to arrive at Callao on the same day. The Retriever has therefore ten clear days to make the survey of the Chorillos-Payta section before joining the Dacia.

18 February 1882:

THE INDIA-RUBBER AND GUTTA-PERCHA COMPANY'S ss. Silvertown, &c.—The Silvertown moved into the Albert Dock on Tuesday, the 7th inst., to complete the alterations now being carried on. A telegram from Mr. King (in charge of the Dacia) announces the successful landing of the shore-ends at Payta, of the Chorillos-Payta and Payta-Sta Elena sections of the Central and South American Telegraph Company's cables.

The Central And South American Telegraph Company,—A telegram was received on Thursday last by the Silvertown Company, announcing the successful laying of the Sta. Elena-Payta section of above company's cables.

4 March 1882:

The Central and South American Telegraph Company's Cables.—We have received information that the sections of this Company's cables from Callao to Payta in Peru, and from Payta to Santa Elena in Ecuador, have been successfully laid by the India-Rubber and Gutta Percha Company's s.s. Dacia.

11 March 1882:

The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company.—The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company notify us that their ss. Silvertown passed Portland on her way to Panama, on the 4th inst., with the. remaining portion of the Central and South American Telegraph Company's cables.

That company also informs us that they have been successful in obtaining a further order for submarine cables, from Mr. J. A. Scrymser, the President of the Mexican Telegraph Company of New York. The object of this order is to extend the cables of the Mexican Company to Galveston.

Prior to the sailing of the ss. Silvertown, the chairman and directors of the India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company entertained a select party on board at luncheon. Mr. Henderson, the chairman, was, through indisposition, unable to be present, and Mr. S. W. Silver, one of the founders of the Silvertown Company, occupied the chair, and was ably seconded by Mr. N. Bannatyne, his colleague on the board. Amongst the guests who were present were Mr. G.H.B. Patey, Mr. E. Graves, Mr. W.H. Preece, Sir Charles T. Bright, Sir Samuel Canning, Sir Wm. Wallace, Capt. J. E. Hunter, R.N., Major A. Wood, Mr. John Glover, Mr. Robinson Kendall, Mr. Septimus Glover, and Mr. P.H. Webb. The French Government was represented by Mr. Rambaud, Engineer in the Government Telegraph service. All the guests appeared pleased with their visit to the largest cable ship afloat.

18 March 1882:

The Cable Ship Silvertown.—On the morning of March 11th, the India-rubber and Gutta-percha Company received a telegram from Mr. M. Hamilton Gray, engineer-in-charge of the ss. Silvertown, announcing the arrival of this steamer at Madeira, on the 10th inst. All well. The Silvertown, after coaling, proceeded on her voyage to the West Coast of South America. She has on board 2,371 n. miles of cable, weighing 4,880 tons, and also, when she passed Portland on the 4th inst., 1,600 tons of coals.

25 March 1882:

The Cable-ship "Silvertown."—The India-rubber and Gutta-percha Company's ss. Silvertown arrived safely at St. Vincent on the 16th instant, and left the same day for the West Coast of Central America.

1 April 1882:

Central and South American Cables.—Mr. E. W. Parsoné telegraphs from Salina Cruz, near Tehuantepec, Mexico, that during the survey made by the ss. Retriever, he has found an excellent bottom throughout from Chorillos, near Lima, Peru, to Salina Cruz, no rock being found north of Santa Elena, Ecuador. A 300 fathoms line is easily obtainable. The soundings at the various landings are not quite complete, but Mr. Parsoné intends completing them on his way south to Panama. The Retriever left Salina Cruz on the 28th inst.

8 April 1882:

The Central and South American Company's Cables. —On Monday morning last, Mr. Robert K. Gray, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Silvertown India Rubber and Gutta Percha Works Company, left London for Southampton, sailing thence the same day per mail steamship Moselle, to join the steamship Silvertown, on the West Coast of Central America.

15 April 1882:

Mexican Cables Extension.—The ss. G.E. Wood, chartered by the India-rubber, Gutta-percha and Telegraph Works Co. to assist their ss. International in extending the Tampico-Brownsville section of the Mexican Telegraph Co.'s cables to Galveston, U.S., arrived off the Silvertown Works on Saturday, the 8th inst. The G.E. Wood is a steamer of 1,084 tons gross and 98 horse-power nom. She will be fitted with an iron cable-tank and the necessary gear and machinery for laying the cable she has to carry out to Mexico. Mr. H. Benest goes out in charge of the G.E. Wood, and will probably leave the river by the 25th inst. The ss. International, with the greater part of the cable on board, will leave before the end of the month. Capt. W.F. Wardroper takes charge until arrival at Kingston, Jamaica, where Messrs. Theophilus Smith and J. Rymer Jones join the International. Mr. Theo. Smith then takes charge of the expedition.

29 April 1882:

Mexican Cables Extension.—The ss. G.E. Wood, chartered by the India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company, left the Silvertown Works on Monday morning, the 24th inst., for Greenhithe, and after adjusting compasses sailed from there the same day for Galveston. Mr. H. Benest goes out in charge of the G.E. Wood.

The ss. International, Captain W. F. Wardroper, with the greater part of the cable on board, left the Silvertown Works on Wednesday evening, the 20th, and after swinging off Greenhithe sailed for Kingston, Jamaica, on Thursday, the 27th inst. As we already stated in a previous number, Mr. Theophilus Smith and Mr. J. Rymer Jones there join the International, Mr. Smith taking charge of the expedition.

Existing Charts And Cable Expeditions.—We have received a new Admiralty chart, No. 2,854, showing harbours in the Gulf of Mexico, with a sketch survey of Tampico Harbour, made in the steamship Dacia, of the India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company. This survey was made during the landing operations of the two shore-ends for Tampico, near the mouth of the Panuco River, of the Mexican Telegraph Company's cables, laid in the beginning of last year. We understand that on the arrival of the ss. Dacia off Tampico, it was found that the coast line, as shown on existing charts, was not sufficiently accurate to proceed with the cable laying operations, and a very careful survey was therefore made. Some 280 soundings were taken, to be able to judge of the best landing place for the shore-ends, and the result was that the place where the hut had already been erected by the Mexican Telegraph Company was found to be unsuitable for landing the cables, and the hut, therefore, had to be moved to a more suitable position, about one mile further to the north. The bar off the entrance of the Panuco River and the river itself as far as Tampico town, were at the same time carefully surveyed in the Dacia's steam launch, and the position of the two prominent trees, one of which is known as the "Higueron," and which serve as landmarks for vessels making for Tampico port, was accurately determined. This survey was made by Mr. A. S. Page, who was the hydrographer of the ss. Dacia, under the supervision of Mr. R.K. Gray, engineer-in-chief of the expedition. As Tampico is becoming an important port in the Gulf of Mexico, this survey no doubt will prove a great benefit to the mercantile marine.

13 May 1882:

The Cable Ship " Retriever."—We have received the following extract from the Panama Star and Herald, March 11th, 1882:—"The repairing steamer Retriever, belonging to the West Coast of America Telegraph Company, under the command of Captain Morton, arrived in this bay early yesterday morning (Friday, March 10th, 1882). She is at present engaged by the well-known

Submarine Cable Manufacturers, The India-Rubber Gutta-Percha |and Telegraph Works Company, Limited, of Silvertown, London, to make the preliminary survey of soundings, &c., for the proposed extensive system of cables which this firm has undertaken to lay for the Central and South American Telegraph Company of New York. Mr. E. Parsoné is entrusted with this portion of the work, assisted by Mr. J.K. Gray, Mr. G.A. Darling (Analytical Chemist), and Mr. C.T. Hawkins (Draughtsman). The Retriever will leave at an early date to complete the survey between this port and Salinas Cruz, Mexico. Mr. Robert Kaye Gray may be expected to arrive on the Isthmus about the 22nd of this month; this gentleman has entire charge of this big undertaking, both at home and abroad.

The Cable Ship "International."—The Silvertown Telegraph Works inform us that their s.s. International, after leaving Gravesend on Thursday, April 27th, at 4.30 p.m., put into Portland, owing to the heavy weather she met with in the Channel, and remained there until the 2nd inst., when she continued her voyage to Kingston, Jamaica.

27 May 1882:

The Central And South American Telegraph Company.—The India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha, and Telegraph Works Company received on the 22nd inst. a telegram from Mr. R. K. Gray, their Engineer-in-Chief, announcing the safe arrival of the ss. Silvertown at Santa Elena (Ecuador). All well on board.

Santa Elena is the place from where the Silvertown commences her cable-laying operations, towards Salina Cruz, near Tehuantepec, in Mexico. The completion of the Santa Elena-Buenaventura and Buenaventura-Panama sections is daily expected.

The ss. Dacia arrived on Monday, the 22nd inst., at Liverpool, on her return from the West Coast of South America.

3 June 1882:

Mexican Telegraph Co.'s Extension.—The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Co. have received a telegram from Mr. H. Benest, engineer-in-charge of the ss. G.E. Wood, announcing the safe arrival of that steamer at Galveston, Texas. She was to proceed at once with the laying of that portion of the Galveston-Tampico cable, which she carries on board. The ss. International, with the remaining portion, arrived at Kingston, Jamaica, on the 25th inst. all well. After coaling she proceeds to Tampico to complete the cable. Mr. Theophilus Smith joins the International at Kingston with Mr. J. Rymer Jones, and then takes charge of the expedition.

10 June 1882:

Central and South American Telegraph Company. —The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company received on the 1st inst. a telegram from Mr. R. Kaye Gray, their engineer-in-chief, announcing the completion of the Santa Elena-Buenaventura section of the Central and South American Telegraph Company's cables, on the 30th ult. This is the first of the five sections to be laid by the ss. Silvertown. The telegram further mentioned that the ss. Silvertown was to proceed the next day (31st May) with the laying towards Panama. All well on board.

The India-rubber And Gutta-percha Company's ss. "Dacia." — The ss. Dacia, Captain P.M. Hayward, belonging to the India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company, arrived at the moorings off the Silvertown works, on the 1st inst., on her return from the West Coast of South America.

17 June 1882:

Mexican Cables Extension. — The India- rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company have received a telegram informing them that the ss. G.E. Wood has completed the laying of the cable she had on board, and is now on her voyage home. The telegram further stated that the ss. International had successfully landed the shore end at Galveston. All well on board.

24 June 1882:

Central and South American Telegraph Company. —The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company notify the receipt of a telegram from Mr. R. K. Gray, their engineer-in-chief, dated Panama, the 13th inst., and in which it says that the ss. Silvertown and the ss. Retriever were then both coaling at Panama, and that the Buenaventura-Panama section was expected to be completed by the 20th inst. All well.

Mexican Cables Extension.—The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company have received a telegram informing them of the successful laying, by their ss. International, Mr. Theophilus Smith, engineer-in-charge, of her part of the cable for the Mexican Cables Extension. The International intended to steam to Brazos, to proceed with the operations of splicing the Tampico-Brazos section to the cable she has just laid to Galveston. All well on board.

1 July 1882:

The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, And Telegraph Works Company, Limited.—This company has received advice by telegram from their Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Robert Kaye Gray, on board the steamship Silvertown, of the laying, on the 23rd ult., of the Buenaventura-Panama section of the Central and South-American Telegraph Company's submarine cable, by which that company's system is completed from Lima to Panama. The cable from Buenaventura was lauded on the Island of Pedro Gonzales, in Panama Bay, and about forty nautical miles south-east from the town of Panama, and a branch line was then laid from this island to Panama.

The ss. Silvertown and the ss. Retriever are now laying the cable from Pedro Gonzales Island to Salinas Bay, in Costa Rica. Panama, therefore, is now connected with Lima, Peru, and so soon as these cables are opened for traffic, they will form a duplicate line of communication between the stations on the West Coast of South America and Europe.

8 July 1882:

Mexican Cables Extension.—The ss. G.E. Wood, chartered by the India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company for the Mexican Cables Extension safely returned from Mexico on Monday the 3rd inst. She is now discharging, off the Silvertown Works, the cable stores, machinery, tanks, &c., with which she was fitted for that expedition.

15 July 1882:

Central and South American Telegraph Company. —Panama, June 8th.—The W.T. and P.S.S. Company's steamer Bolivar brought a number of young men for the service of the Central and South American Telegraph Company on the coast. They are Messrs. Tracey, Pascod, Turner, Harding, Coxen, Cranwell, Rowe, Cooke, Tiddy, Davey, Hoskings, MacLachlan, Barnes, Field, Atherton, and Brain. To only a few of these have stations been assigned, and on the arrival of the Silvertown, which may be expected here some time in the present week, Mr. J.B. Stearns, the general manager, now on board that vessel, will arrange the distribution of those now here where the necessities of the service may require. Another contingent sailed from Liverpool by the ss. Cuban on the 25th ult., on the arrival of which a distribution of officers, electricians, assistants, &c., will be made from Lima to Tehuantepec. A Mr. Murphy, we are informed, will be the resident agent of the Company in this city, and to Mr. Stanley McNider, now in Guatemala, will be confided the superintendence of the line from this place to Tehuantepec. Per ss. Dacia and ss. Silvertown the following members of the Central and South American Telegraph Company's staff arrived on the coast:—Messrs. W. Kelly, J. Milne, W. Clarkson, H.F. Horan, M. Murphy, and Charles G. Murphy.

ss. International has been chartered by the International Ocean Telegraph Company, of New York, to repair one of the Key West-Havana cables, belonging to that company. The India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha, and Telegraph Works Company received on the 4th inst. a telegram from Mr. Theophilus Smith, engineer-in-charge, announcing the safe arrival there on that day of the International. All well on board. The International will start at once, with these repairs.

29 July 1882:

Central and South American Telegraph Company. —The India-rubber, Gutta-percha and Telegraph Works Company notify the receipt of telegrams from Mr. R.K. Gray, engineer-in-chief, announcing the successful completion of two more sections by the ss. Silvertown, namely, from Salina Cruz, near Tehuantepec, Mexico, to Libertad, in San Salvador, and from Libertad to San Juan del Sur, in Nicaragua.

It would appear, therefore, that an alteration in the landing places has taken place. Instead of landing at San Jose de Guatemala, as was first intended, the Salina Cruz section now lands at Libertad, and thereby brings the republic of San Salvador in the company's system of cables.

The cable was further supposed to have gone from San Jose to Salinas Bay, in Costa Rica; but this section is now replaced by the Libertad—San Juan del Sur section, and through this the republic of Nicaragua enters the company's system.

29 July 1882:

The India-rubber, Gutta-percha and Telegraph Works (Company) Limited.

The half-yearly general meeting of the above company was held in the Cannon Street Hotel, on the 25th inst., Mr. George Henderson, chairman of. the company, in the chair. The secretary, Mr. W. J. Tyler, having read the notice convening the meeting,

The Chairman said:

The chief work of the year, the Central and South American Cable expedition, has proceeded very satisfactorily. The Dacia has returned, having accomplished her share of the work, and the Silvertown, according to the latest telegrams from our engineer, Mr. Robert Kaye Gray, is engaged in laying the last section. He expects to have the whole system completed from Vera Cruz to Callao, amounting to over 3,000 miles of cable, by the end of the present month. Happily the expedition has been conducted hitherto without important accident or serious illness, and all our staff hare worked cheerfully and energetically in spite of long hours and much exposure in a trying climate.

19 August 1882:

Central and South American Telegraph Company. —The India-rubber, Gutta-percha and Telegraph Works Company notify the receipt of a telegram from Mr. R.K. Gray, engineer-in-chief, stating that the ss. Silvertown had successfully completed, on the 10th inst., the San Juan del Sur-Pedro Gonzales section of the Central and South American Telegraph Company's cables.

This section was the last one to be laid, and the company's system on the West Coast of Central and South America, from Chorillos (Peru) to Salina Cruz, Tehuantepec (Mexico), is therefore now completed. On the Atlantic side the Goatzacoalcos-Vera-Cruz section connects this company's system with the Mexican Telegraph Company's cables from Vera-Cruz to Galveston, and an excellent communication is now established between the republics of Chili, Peru, Ecuador, U.S. of Columbia, Nicaragua, San Salvador, and Mexico, and the U.S. of North America. We notice in the Panama Star and Herald of June 22nd the following interesting items relative to the operations of the above-named company:—

The cable steamer Retriever has been occupied the past two days in laying the shore end of the cable which is to place us, at an early date, in communication with the outside world. The place at which the cable was landed is about a couple of hundred yards to the eastward of the point where the road leading past the cemetery comes out on the beach. From deep water it is laid entirely in a mud or sand bottom to where it is now located. Great care was exercised in selecting the place, so that no rough or jagged rocks would be met with which would chafe or injure the cable in any way. In order to make connection with the cable now buoyed off Pacheco, one of the Pearl Islands, the Retriever will continue the work, laying the cable inside of Taboga and other islands, and on bottom not likely to be disturbed by vessels coming to an anchor in the port or at Taboga. The connection at Pacheco will probably be made to-day or to-morrow, when the Retriever will return to Taboga.

Yesterday the connection was made between the shore section of the cable at Panama and the line buoyed off the island of Pedro Gonzales, one of the Pearl Island group. The Silvertown picked up the buoy behind Taboga, to which the cable was attached, and got under weigh about eight o'clock, completing the run down to the Pearl Islands and splicing the cable in a few hours from the time of starting. From the station on shore signals were exchanged with the Silvertown at the Pearl Islands, and to-day the line thus completed will be tested through to Lima.

In response to the courteous invitation of Mr. J B. Poylo a number of our principal townspeople visited the cable ships Silvertown and Retriever on Sunday, the 18th inst. The steamer Taboguilla took the invited guests on board in the morning, sailing about eight o'clock, calling at the island for some other guests, and arrived alongside the Silvertown about eleven o'clock. The two ships were lying side by side, and were gaily decorated for the occasion. A sumptuous lunch was served on board, after which dancing was indulged in until the hour for return was notified. The band of the 1st Battalion of Zapadores furnished the music for the occasion, through the kindness of General Capella Toledo, who was among the visitors. The excursion was in every respect a great success, and the ladies and gentlemen enjoying it express unqualified praise of the kindness and courtesy of the officers of the two cable ships and the other gentlemen connected with the expedition.

The Cable ships Retriever and Silvertown will sail to-day for the Coast of Central America. They will leave the line connected as far as Panama, where it will be completed to the station in a few days and tested for any defects which may exist between here and Buenaventura. The two ships will call at San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, and at La Libertad in Salvador, or San Jose de Guatemala, laying the shore sections, if the weather is good. Proceeding thence to Salinas Cruz the line will be landed and then run down along the coast, making connections with the various shore sections until the island of Pedro Gonzales is reached, where the last splice will be made and the work completed.

The T. line to Panama is shorter than was originally intended. It was discovered that the depth of water across the entrance to the bay was much greater than was supposed, being in some places over 2,000 fathoms. The bottom shelves off very abruptly in places a short distance below the Pearl Islands. Lines of soundings made across the bay present some remarkable differences in depth, in some instances soundings a mile apart giving a difference of 1,000 fathoms. Soundings about 8 miles South of the Pearl Islands and North of Cape Malo gave as much as 1,800 fathoms of water, while a little further South a depth of 2,004 fathoms was reached. As the contract provided that the cable should be laid in water not over 400 fathoms deep, the original course has been abandoned, and the line of the coast has been followed, keeping to a uniform depth of water. This plan, it is believed will make the work of repairs in the future a matter of much less difficulty than if the cable had been laid in very deep water. The bottom discovered along the coast presents the same general features, and is principally a dark greenish coloured mud, in which the cable will rest with perfect safety. A vast number of specimens of this muddy deposit have been secured and chemically tested, showing, we believe, few or no traces of copper, iron pyrites, or other mineral agents whose effects on the steel sheathings of the cables are most destructive.

2 September 1882:

The Steamship "International."—The s.s. International, belonging to the India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha, and Telegraph Works Company, returned on Sunday morning, the 27th ult., from Mexico and the West Indies, where she has been engaged in the extension of the Tampico-Brazos Santiago cable to Galveston and afterwards in the repairs of one of the International Ocean Telegraph Company's cables from Key West to Habana.

Both these undertakings were successfully carried out by Mr. Theophilus Smith, engineer-in-charge, assisted by Mr. H. Benest, Mr. J. Rymer Jones, Captain W.F. Wardroper, and others. The repairs of the Key West-Habana cable, however, were effected under the supervision and direction of Mr. M. L. Hellings, cable manager at Key West.

When the International has discharged her ballast and docked, she will receive the cable which is now being made at the Silvertown Telegraph Works for the French Government, to be laid along the coast of Tunis, from Soussa to Sphax and from Sphax to Gabes.

16 September 1882:

Successful Completion of the West Coast Cable. — We read the following in the Panama Star and Herald of the 19th ult. :— On Friday, August 4th, the steamships Silvertown and Retriever started from Pedro Gonzales Island, in the Bay of Panama, the former ship paying out cable to complete the section between that Island and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Mr. Parsoné, general agent of the West Coast of America Telegraph Company, having volunteered to take charge of the temporary hut on Pedro Gonzales Island for the electrical tests, &c., necessary during cable laying, his services were accepted by Mr. R.K. Gray, and, with Messrs. Bailey, Norton, and Phillips, he remained at that island roughing it until Sunday last, when, learning by cable that the work at sea had been completed, they returned in the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's tender Taborjuilla, which went to the island to bring them to Panama.

The steamship Silvertown returned, as already announced, on the 17th inst., with Mr. R.K. Gray on board, after having successfully completed the section to San Juan del Sur. The final splice of this section was slipped on the 10th, thus completing the whole telegraphic system of the Central and South American Telegraph Company.

Few persons are aware of the extent of this system, which runs from Lima to Payta, Peru; from Payta to Santa Helena, Ecuador; from Santa Helena to Buenaventura, Columbia; from Buenaventura to the Island of Pedro Gonzales, and thence to Panama; from Pedro Gonzales to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; from San Juan del Sur to La Libertad, in Salvador; and from La Libertad to Salinas Cruz, in Mexico. From Salinas Cruz a land wire crosses the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and a cable thence from Goatzacoalcos to Vera Cruz, Mexico, places the line in connection with the United States and the Old World. The total length of electrical cable connections completed by the company amounts to 3,170 knots, a figure which proves the enormous amount of work which has been rapidly and successfully performed.

A flaw discovered in laying the Pedro Gonzales and San Juan del Sur section was easily removed within twenty-four hours of being discovered, and perfect communication through the whole line was re-established within twenty hours. The electrical tests were so accurately made that they located the flaw within one knot of its actual position. The main cable was at once grappled for and picked up in 700 fathoms of water. Reeling in was commenced, and very shortly afterwards the defective piece was made good. The cable which was picked up was found within 500 yards of its location on the cable companies' charts, a circumstance which proves the wonderful accuracy which must be observed by all concerned in such an extremely scientific and costly work as that which has now been so successfully and happily terminated.

The undertaking has been a great one. Now that it has been happily concluded, the few drawbacks which have been encountered having been overcome by foresight and knowledge, and the work having been performed on a coast hitherto almost, if not entirely, unknown to the promoters of cable enterprises, Mr. Robert Kaye Gray, and every one connected with his staff and the vessels, must feel satisfied with the satisfactory results which have attended their labours.

30 September 1882:

The Panama Earthquakes.—A New York Herald telegram, dated Panama, September 8th, says:—"Mr. Robert Gray, F.R.G.S., the chief of the India-Rubber and Telegraph Works, of Silvertown, with Mr. Joseph Stearns, Central and South American Telegraph Company, report an earthquake in the Bay of Panama some six weeks ago. It was felt on the Silvertown cable ship. Mr. Gray also reports another up the coast, likewise felt on board, following it. The West India and Panama cable is reported broken.

7 October 1882:

The Steam-ship "Silvertown."—The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company have received a telegram from San Francisco informing them of the safe arrival of their steamer Silvertown at that port on Sunday the 15th inst. All well on board.

14 October 1882:

The Central and South American Telegraph Company's Cables.—The India-rubber, Gutta-percha, and Telegraph Works Company notify that the cables manufactured and laid by them for the Central and South American Telegraph Company between Vera Cruz, Mexico, Panama, and Lima, in Peru, with intermediate stations at Goatzacoalcos, Salina Cruz, Port Libertad, San Juan del Sur, Buenaventura, Santa Elena, Payta, and Chorillos, were opened to the public on Saturday, the 7th inst. These lines, some 8,200 miles, with the 1,700 miles of the West Coast of America Telegraph Company, extending from Lima to Valparaiso, with intermediate stations at Chorillos, Mollendo, Iquique, Arica, Antafogasta, Caldera, and la Serena, and the 740 miles of the Mexican Telegraph Company, between Vera Cruz and Galveston, with an intermediate station at Tampico, make 5,640 miles altogether, made and laid by this company between Valparaiso and the United States of America.


The Steam-ship "Silvertown."—We read the following in the Panama Star and Herald:—

Independently of the interesting fact that the Silvertown is a magnificent cable-ship, with all the necessary appliances and improvements used in laying the submarine telegraph lines, she is a comfortable and spacious vessel, having an elegant saloon, chastely furnished and cabins well ventilated, affording every comfort.

During the recent earthquakes this fine steamer became the hospitable roof of many of Mr. Robert Gray's friends. The acting British Consul, with his family, as well as many English and French residents, during the panic had recourse to Mr. Gray's kindness, who most generously entertained them on board. The guests were taken from shore by the steam-launch of the Silvertown and received on their arrival by the officers and crew, who were most attentive. Several fine cabins were placed immediately at their disposal, amongst which Mr. R. Gray generously offered his deck-cabin and office, which had to be accepted. This cabin, ventilated to perfection, is most charming; it has a fine spacious berth, a library containing the latest books, newspapers, and periodicals, a bathing apparatus of no small dimensions, and several hammocks hung in different directions of the vessel to accommodate those who preferred reposing on deck and in the open air.

Thus sleeping was assured with every comfort, as one can perceive, the victualling department provided the guests with everything that could be desired. The meals were thoroughly enjoyed by every one present, and the remarks made were that not only were they safe from falling debris and fright, but also that the benefit derived was surprising by the charming change and company.

Now that the Silvertown is about to leave for San Francisco, where she will receive a cargo and return to England, it may be confidently assumed that the great scientific undertaking of laying the cables for the Central and South American Telegraph Company has been satisfactorily accomplished. Indeed, the employees on the Silvertown, and the operative staff of the company, are unanimous as to the admirable manner in which the cable has been laid—a fact which was proved by a final test which took place yesterday. The credit, of course, is due to the entire cable staff, under the guidance of Mr. Robert K. Gray, who has deservedly received congratulations from a large circle of friends at home and abroad. It is expected the lines will speedily be opened to the public for business, and then direct communication will be available to every town or port of importance north and south of the Pacific coast, and transmission to all parts of the world where lines are laid—a boon which cannot fail to be appreciated by the public at large. It is a fact that signals through 1,600 miles of direct cable have been exchanged with remarkable distinctness.

The offices at the various stations along the company's route are all in readiness for work. The Panama office, which, we understand, is to be the head-quarters of the Central and South American Telegraph Company, has been rapidly transformed into a suitable set of offices since the arrival of the traffic manager (Mr. C.J. Murphy), who, in conjunction with the general manager, Mr. J.B. Stearns, has been most assiduous in making necessary alterations for the public benefit, and who has also an efficient staff of operators ready to carry on the work of the office."


On this date The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review also reproduced an article from the Montreal Gazette of 25 September 1882: Union of the Three Americas By Telegraph.— Panama, September 16th, 1882.

4 November 1882:

Earthquakes In Peru.—The Panama Star and Herald of the 28th September says:—Latest news from Lima reaches to the 17th. It was transmitted by cable to Payta, thence by steamer to Equador, whence it came on by cable. On Thursday, the 14th inst., a severe earthquake was experienced in Lima, which was followed by a lighter one on Friday, the 15th inst. So far no damage is reported. It now appears the Payta cable was broken by this shock. Under date of the 5th October, the same paper says:—The Retriever has succeeded in picking up and repairing the Payta-Santa Elena cable, so that electrical communication is now complete between all the stations of the Central and South American Cable Company. Mr. E. W. Parsoné was in charge of the work. The break, as suspected, had been caused by the earthquake felt in Peru on September 14th.


Central and South American Telegraph Company.

Telegraphic communication with Valparaiso, Panama, Buenaventura, Payta, Lima, Mollendo, Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, and all telegraph stations in Peru and Chili, is now established, via New York and Mexico.

16 December 1882:

Cable News.—The Philadelphia Press says :—The cable steamer, Duchess of Marlborough, is now in Colon, and is about to proceed to repair the cable thence to Jamaica, which is broken at a point about thirty miles from the port. The Central and South American Cable Company have determined to cut the T piece out of their line—the shank of which now gives us our connection with the system—and to bring the ends of the northern and southern cables into the City of Panama. This will much diminish the power required in transmitting.

The Admiralty charts of the Bay of Panama, as corrected up to 1865, are entirely incorrect in respect to many of the soundings given in them. Captains who endeavour to bring their vessels up the bay at night may find themselves out of their course, and, being unable by soundings to tell where they are, cannot reach the anchorage without waiting for daylight. It is believed the soundings taken by the officers of the s.s. Silvertown will add much valuable information on this subject, and enable some corrections to be made at once, since they not only sounded along the line occupied by the cable, but also straight across the bay from shore to shore, thus embracing an extensive area in which no soundings had ever previously been made.

27 January 1873:

Presentation.—Mr. James A. Scrymser, of New York, was on New Year's Day presented with a handsome silver service by Messrs. I. Pierpont Morgan, Charles Lanier, William G. Hamilton, Alfred Pell, and James K. Gracie, directors of the Mexican Telegraph Company, and of the Central and South American Telegraph Company, in recognition of his indefatigable zeal and ability in bringing to a successful issue the establishment and organisation of the telegraph systems of these two companies, which extend from Galveston, Texas, to Lima, Peru, and comprising over 4,000 nautical miles of submarine telegraph cable and 300 statute miles of land line.

Last revised: 7 January, 2010

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