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

1881 and 1882 Atlantic Cables
Canso, Nova Scotia - Whitesand Bay, Sennen Cove, England

Manufactured by Siemens Brothers for the American Telegraph & Cable Co. and leased to Western Union, the 1881 cable was laid by CS Faraday (1) on her maiden voyage. System length was 2531 nm. This cable was extended in 1889 from Nova Scotia to Coney Island, New York, also by CS Faraday (1).

A second cable was laid over this route by the same vessel in 1882. These cables were diverted into Bay Roberts, Newfoundland in 1913 and 1915 respectively, also by CS Faraday (1). A connecting cable was laid between North Sydney, Cape Breton and Colinet, Newfoundland in 1915 and a further cable was laid in 1921 between Island Cove, Newfoundland and North Sydney, this being extended to Canso in 1922.

1881 cable section, recovered in 1942

Image copyright © 2008 Bell Canada Historical Collection

The 1881 cable section shown here was recovered in 1942. The donor of the cable included these notes:

Cross-section of 1881 recovered cable

Image copyright © 2008 Bell Canada Historical Collection

Submarine cable picked up during repair of Western Union Bay Roberts (NFLD) - Penzance (England) cable by C.S. LORD KELVIN, escorted by U.S.S. BERNADOU, August 1942, Lat 50.00N, Long, 30.00W in depths ranging between 1½ and 2 miles.
Cable laid in 1881.
Cable type : "8301";
Armor : 24 wires no 15 B.W.G.;
Copper 350 lbs per mile;
Gutta Percha 300 lbs per mile.

An examination of the cable shows the conductor to be of the typical Siemens construction of the period, in this case having a larger central copper wire surrounded by ten smaller wires This arrangement packed more copper into the same volume, thus improving the signalling speed.

Last revised: 13 October, 2011

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You can help - if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me. Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

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—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: Atlantic-Cable.com