995 Miles of Wire
A long line of juniper poles—like the one you see here—set 70 yards apart ended Pipe Spring’s isolation. From 1871 on, telegraph wire connected the ranch first to Utah and then to the outside world.
By 1880 Mormon settlements from Idaho to Arizona could communicate easily with their neighbors and the Church leadership via the Deseret Telegraph system.
From 1871 to 1888 at least seven women operated the telegraph instruments here at Pipe Spring.
Eliza Luella “Ella” Stewart sent the first telegraph message from Winsor Castle on December 15 of 1871. She had been learning the art of telegraphy from Sarah Ann Spilsbury at the Toquerville, Utah telegraph station. Stewart stayed at Pipe Spring for “less than a month” and then went to be the operator at Kanab.
During the summer of 1876, Sarah Alydia Terry was telegrapher at Pipe Spring. At this time the tithing ranch was in transition from the management of Anson Perry Winsor to that of Charles Pulsipher. Miss Terry learned telegraphy in 1872 when Daniel M. Tyler came down from Beaver to the town of Hebron (near present-day Enterprise, Utah) to run the telegraph office there. That year she took over the duties at the Hebron office. The wire from there extended out to the mining camps of Pioche and Ely in Nevada, so she handled much of the business of the miners along that line. After several months at Hebron she went to Panaca, Nevada to staff the telegraph office there. While living at Hebron, Sarah taught telegraphy to her aunt Ann Beers Pulsipher, who replaced Sarah at that station while she attended a school in St. George.
While at Pipe Spring, Miss Terry became acquainted with Anson Perry Winsor II, and they were married the following March. Sarah also formed a friendship with Ella Stewart in their conversations over the wires of the telegraph. She and A.P. Winsor II rode on horseback to attend a Pioneer Day celebration in Kanab with Miss Stewart. Ann Beers Pulsipher had arrived at Pipe Spring by the fall of 1876 to live during her husband’s stay there. She took over the telegraph duties there and her niece left for St. George to attend school again. Ann Beers Pulsipher left the ranch in 1880.
The passing of the transcontinental telegraph through Salt Lake City in 1861 inspired Brigham Young to plan a new Mormon Church-owned communication network. After 1864, prices of Civil War-surplus telegraph materials dropped enough to make his plans affordable.
On October 18, 1866 a wagon train of sixty-five wagons arrived in Salt Lake City with 84 tons of wire, insulators, batteries and other equipment to be used in the construction of the lines. During the winter of 1865-66 men living in different parts of Utah cut the telegraph poles and hauled them to points along the line while others surveyed the proposed route.
Last updated: February 24, 2015