|In 1850, ship arrivals
were of great interest to Gold Rush San Francisco, as all supplies and
communications came in by sea. Local businessmen G.F. Sweeny and T.E.
Baugh set up a lookout station on a high hill in San Francisco. From
the hill, lookouts had a view of the Golden Gate and provided the first
report of ships entering the Bay. A fixed semaphore system - two arms
hinged on a tall mast - showed what kind of ship it was and if it needed
assistance. The signal could be read from downtown and the waterfront.
The system, called a "telegraph," gave its name to the hill
on which it stood.
In 1851, a second lookout station was built near the Golden Gate
at Point Lobos. It communicated via semaphore with Telegraph Hill,
though visibility was often hampered by fog. In 1853, an electric
telegraph was installed, linking Point Lobos to downtown San Francisco
and making the Telegraph Hill station obsolete.
Above, San Franciscans were alerted to the arrival of ships by the
Point Lobos (outer) station, which relayed semaphore signals to the
Telegraph Hill (inner) station.