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

Submarine Cable Route Maps

Early cable route maps were often published in the cable history books. Later maps were issued as promotional items by cable companies and government telecommunications authorities.

For modern cables, Greg Mahlknecht has an excellent interactive map showing routes and details for each system.

TeleGeography now has an antique-style interactive map of present-day working cables. The TeleGeography site also has other submarine cable maps.

Each image below links to a larger copy of the map

Vertical section of the bed of the Atlantic Ocean,
from Valencia, Ireland, to Trinity Bay, Newfoundland,
(on line C.D of chart above) showing Soundings
made by Lieut. Dayman in H.M.S. Cyclops, 1857,
for laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable.
(The Vertical scale, showing depths of soundings,
is about 72 times greater than the longitudinal scale.)

Map of the 1858 Atlantic Cable route from
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, August 21, 1858

Another map of the 1858 Atlantic Cable route.
Although no publisher is shown on this map, other copies are marked:
"Korff Brothers. Practical Lithographers, 54 William Street, New York"
and "Sold by Charles Magnus, Lith. 12 Frankfort St., N.Y."
(dated 1857 and copyright Korff Brothers)

 

Detail of above map

Map of the Telegraph Plateau, from Maury's Physical Geography of the Sea (1869 edition),
showing the routes of the 1858 Atlantic Cable and the proposed 1869 French cable

Australia and China Telegraph, 1859
Existing and proposed lines

1865: Map Shewing the Atlantic Telegraph and other Submarine
Cables in Europe and America from The Atlantic Telegraph.
Note also the route of Tal Shaffner's proposed northern cable.

 

Detail of North Atlantic section of above map

1865: Chart of the World Showing the Proposed Submarine & Land
Telegraphs Round the World from The Atlantic Telegraph.

1870 British Indian Cable
Bombay-Aden, Aden-Suez

c. 1870 Map showing the telegraph lines in operation, under contract, and contemplated, to complete the circuit of the globe / entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1855 by J.H. Colton & Co. in the Clerks Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. 41cm x 63cm. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, call number G3201.P92 1855 .J51

Note: This Colton world map is dated 1855, but it was re-issued about 1870 with the cable lines added, together with a new title and caption. Evidence for this is that one submarine cable, from France to North America, is shown as “in operation;” this cable was laid in 1869.

North Atlantic detail of above map

c. 1880 Anglo-American Telegraph Company North Atlantic map

1893 map of North Atlantic cables (center section omitted),
from Charles Bright's Submarine Telegraphs

Map of the Philippines, showing route of the cable laid by CS Burnside in 1901,
from Florence Kimball Russell's A Woman's Journey through the Philippines

1901 Eastern Telegraph Company System Map
from A.B.C. Telegraphic Code 5th Edition

North Atlantic detail of above map

Carte générale des grandes communications télégraphiques du monde, 1901/03
International Telegraph Bureau (Berne, Switzerland)

Map images courtesy of the
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

North Atlantic detail of above map

Great Britain detail of above map

1902 British All Red Line map, from Johnson's
The All Red Line - The Annals and Aims of the Pacific Cable Project

1903 Map: Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co Ltd
Showing submarine telegraph cables the cores of which were manufactured at
The Gutta Percha Works, Wharf Road, City Road, London N.

1904 Karte des Weltkabelnetzes (Map of the World Cable Network)
from Oskar Moll: Die Unterseekabel in Wort und Bild
.
Atlantic detail and English Channel detail

Move your mouse over the image to see the changes in the cable
routes from 1872 to 1922. Click here for a larger version of the 1922 map

Move your mouse over me

1872 and 1922 Eastern & Associated Route Maps

1924: The Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies' Cable System map

1924 International Cables map from Schreiner: Cables and Wireless
Click for North Atlantic detail of this map

Cable and Wireless “Via Imperial” map. undated, but post-1935
Courtesy of Anita Fuller, whose father, Colin Hugh Thomas,
worked for Cable and Wireless for almost forty years

1947 Cable and Wireless “Via Imperial” map
from Press Handbook, Third Edition

1982 Pacific region cable map

1983 MedArabTel map of the existing and planned telecommunication network in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions

1983 PanAfTel map - PanAfrican Telecommunication Network

1991 Hong Kong Telecom map of Asian cables

1992 British Telecomm map of
Communications - Around the World

North Atlantic detail of BT map

Anglo-American, Eastern Associated, Hong Kong, MedArabTel, Pacific,
PanAfTel, and British Telecomm maps courtesy of Bill Glover

Last revised: 10 January, 2014

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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