STRANG MANAGED FIRST TELEPHONE SYSTEM IN CITY
Switchboard Installed in Drug Store in 1898--
Few Subscribers Until Jacksonville Tolls Erased
The telephone today is looked upon as an indispensable convenience if not a commercial and social necessity, but there was a time in Medford when it was viewed as an extravagant and unnecessary luxury. And Charles Strang, owner of Strang's Drug Store, recalled today just when it was when telephones were frowned upon in this locality.
The memory took Mr. Strang back to 1898, when Medford's first switchboard was installed in the back of his pharmacy, then situated where the Economy Meat Market now stands [at 206 E. Main].
At that time the Pacific States Telephone Company had just linked up San Francisco and Portland and was endeavoring to build up its telephone business along the line. Switchboard service had already been inaugurated in Ashland and Jacksonville, and the company sought to establish its business here, Mr. Strang recalled.
Few Cared for Phones.The result was that a small board was set up in the rear of the Strang drug store, and Mr. Strang became the first operator. He built up his patronage to 15 to 16 subscribers, but there the expansion stopped, as no one outside of a few physicians and business men showed even passing interest in the blessings and conveniences the telephone was supposed to bring, Mr. Strang related.
Despairing of the poor showing, an official of the company came to Medford from San Francisco and asked Mr. Strang if he had no suggestions as to how the patronage might be increased.
"Yes, I have," Mr. Strang replied. "Establish free service between Medford and Jacksonville."
That was done, Mr. Strang said, and tolls between the two points were eliminated. Business began to grow from then, for Jacksonville was at that time the county seat, and there was naturally considerable communication between the two cities. Soon it became necessary to install another switchboard in the pharmacy, and it was not long before a third board was needed to handle the increased business, Mr. Strang said.
First Operators Named.The first full-time operator to be employed at the drug store switchboard was Lillian Barr, now Mrs. Ralph Woodford of this city, it was recalled by Mr. Strang's son, Fred, who by then had become an interested observer of the telephone business. The second operator was Florence Toft, who subsequently married and now resides in Los Angeles. She was a sister of the late Ray Toft. The third operator to be employed at the drug store was Miss Edna Eifert, who now is bookkeeper at the Hutchison Mercantile Co.
Mr. Strang said for his compensation he received a percentage of the phone rentals and tolls, out of which he had to pay the employees and take care of other expenses. He recalled with a chuckle that it always cost him more to operate the service than he received.
After ten years the subscribers exceeded 600 in number, Fred Strang related, and a separate office was established by the telephone company. While a student at the University of Oregon, Fred himself worked for the company during vacations, his job being to drive about the countryside in a buggy to collect rentals and to remove the wall phones when payment was refused, though he was called upon seldom to snip the wires, he said. "Those were the real horse and buggy days," the younger Mr. Strang commented.
Strang's Drug Store, incidentally, was the first pharmacy to be established in Medford. It was opened by the elder Mr. Strang in March 1884, when the city's population was only 200, Mr. Strang having come here from Jacksonville, where his parents resided.
Mr. Strang has now passed his 76th birthday, but he is still hale and hearty and in active charge of his pharmacy, which he has conduced here continuously since 1884.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 27, 1935, page B1
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The telephone has struck Ashland.
E. H. Antenreith has introduced the Bell telephone in Jacksonville. On last Sunday evening an exhibition of its workings between that place and Yreka was given to a crowd of astonished natives, who assembled in the Sentinel office.
"Local Brevities," Ashland Tidings, December 13, 1878, page 3
TELEPHONE.--Mr. C. K. Klum has a telephone in operation between his store and house--a distance of about 300 yards--and its working is quite satisfactory. Ordinary conversation can be distinctly heard, as also the striking of a clock, etc. in the room, at some distance from the instrument. The "acoustic" is the name by which this kind of telephone is designated. There is no electricity required, the waves of sound being conveyed by the vibrations of the connecting wire itself, which is of copper, and very small. The call is made by tapping against the button which is fastened to the diaphragm.
Ashland Tidings, December 13, 1878, page 3
The telephone line between Jacksonville and Medford will soon be completed.
"News of the Northwest: Oregon," Oregonian, Portland, May 17, 1887, page 2
Col. J. B. Riddle has purchased a set of Bell telephones for his hotel, and we enjoy telephonic communication with our neighbors.
"Medford Items," Oregonian, Portland, June 6, 1888, page 3
Medford and Jacksonville are joined by a Bell telephone, which extends between the U.S. Hotel and the Riddle House.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 6, 1888, page 3
A tight-wire telephone conducts the depot section and the center of town. It is for public use, the depot end being near the Shannon house and the downtown end at Van Sant's store.
"Brevity Basket," Valley Record, Ashland, August 18, 1892, page 3
The Grants Pass Observer says that a gentleman was in that city last week, looking up the matter of establishing a telephone system. The intention is to connect Grants Pass with Jackson County towns, and eventually with Portland.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 29, 1893, page 3
The patents covering the Bell telephone having expired, this valuable means of communication will soon be in reach of all communities. A line connecting Jacksonville with other towns of the valley and Grants Pass would find enough business to make the investment profitable.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 19, 1894, page 3
A. M. Kerr, representing the Cushman telephone company, has been in Medford for the past several days endeavoring to interest some of our people in a telephone line project between this city and Jacksonville. He is also in hopes of putting in private lines about the city. These are pretty close times to open up new projects, but inasmuch as our people are a people of progress it is more than probable the gentleman will meet with some success.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, June 8, 1894, page 3
Mr. Kerr, the telephone man, was engaged last Friday and Saturday in putting up poles and wire by which the residence of druggist Chas. Strang and Dr. W. S. Jones and the Strang drug store are supplied with telephone communication. It's an almighty convenient arrangement, that telephone, and it is particularly so to doctors and druggists. Mr. Kerr, we understand, has partially negotiated with several more of our citizens for instruments. The wires, which are now in working order, are doing the job up fine. Every sound uttered through the 'phones is very distinct, which is evidence of the excellence of the instrument used. Tuesday Mr. Jones kindly favored us with several fine piano selections at the doctor's residence and which were listened to by us in Mr. Strang's drug store. The music was well executed, and the sound lost none of its sweetness by being transmitted over a wire for a distance of several blocks. During the rendition of the music little Maud's voice could be heard chiming in for a chance to "talk to the 'phone," and then followed admonitions from Mrs. Jones. More of these instruments in use would save our business men many blocks of travel.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, June 15, 1894, page 3
Since our last issue three more 'phones have been put in in Medford. The wires from these connect Dr. E. P. Geary's residence with the Haskins drug store and druggist Haskins' residence. The convenience of the telephone will be fully appreciated by these gentlemen, as much walking and time will be saved. When the doctor has a call at night for a prescription he can "ring up" Mr. Haskins and have that gentleman at the drug store by the time his prescription gets there--just same with Dr. Jones and the Strang drug store.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, June 22, 1894, page 3
Will Talk with Jacksonville.
The Medford-Jacksonville telephone line is settled so far as construction and operation is concerned--its continuance to other points will depend upon the patronage this much of the proposed line receives. Mr. Kerr, the gentleman who has recently put up a couple of private telephone lines in Medford, has arranged with a company composed of Mayor G. H. Haskins, Dr. B. F. Adkins, and City Recorder B. S. Webb of Medford, and John White, of the firm of Reames, White & Co., of Jacksonville, whereby he sells to them a telephone line running between the two points and three instruments in good working order for a consideration, the amount of which we are not at liberty to state. Work on the proposed line has already been commenced, and Mr. Kerr promises to have it in operation inside of three weeks. There will be three instruments placed in immediate use. One of these will be in the drug store of G. H. Haskins, Medford, and two in Jacksonville--one in the county clerk's office at the courthouse and one in the store of Reames, White & Co., the Medford 'phone to connect with both of these. Twenty-five cents will be charged for a five minutes' talk. Tickets have already been sold to the amount of $75 in Medford, which fact points to the success which we may reasonably expect it will reach. Should it prove a paying investment the line will, in all probability, be extended to Ashland and afterwards to Eagle Point and Central Point. The gentlemen who will be owners of the line are among our best and most reliable business men, which is in itself a guarantee of a square deal to the patrons. The failure of the line put up a few years ago was the required payment of a $72 royalty on the instruments and fifteen percent of all money earned--it's different now, no royalty, no percent. May success crown the Medford-Jacksonville telephone line.
Medford Mail, June 29, 1894, page 3
The work of digging holes for the telephone poles will be complete by tomorrow night, and by next Saturday night it is expected the insulators will be on and the poles set, and possibly some wiring will be done. The line will follow the Medford-Jacksonville county road.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, June 29, 1894, page 3
Ashland and Medford are to have a telephone connection.
"Suggested Comment," Capital Journal, Salem, August 1, 1894, page 2
The people of Talent and Phoenix are arriving at a positive conclusion as to the advantages to be derived by the telephone line. Last week for several days the wires were kept busy by these people asking for the services of professional men, at both Medford and Ashland. It is only a matter of a few months until this line will have many patrons. We need become accustomed to its great convenience before we will fully appreciate its worth.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, October 19, 1894, page 3
Telephone connections have been made with Gold Hill, an instrument having been placed in the post office in that town this week. The line will soon be completed to Grants Pass, when all the towns in the valley, along the railroad, will be in speaking distance of each other.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, September 27, 1895, page 5
Telephone poles for the line connecting Grants Pass with Medford, Jacksonville, Ashland and way points have been placed in position in Grants Pass.
Capital Journal, Salem, October 18, 1895, page 1
Two carloads of poles for the Sunset Long Distance Telephone Co., which is building a line between San Francisco and Portland, were unloaded at this city last week.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 21, 1898, page 3
The material for the Sunset Telephone Co., which is building a line between San Francisco and Portland and also putting systems in different towns along the route, has arrived.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 8, 1898, page 3
The construction crews of the Oregon and Sunset Telephone companies will meet at Wolf Creek, Josephine County, before long and complete one of the longest telephone systems on record. The line will reach from Spokane, Wash. to San Francisco, and conversation can be successfully carried on over it.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 11, 1898, page 3
Jacksonville will be included in the Sunset Telephone Co.'s system between Spokane and San Francisco, which is now being put in. A carload of poles was unloaded here yesterday.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 18, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Co. now has its force of men at work in the vicinity of Medford, who have the line almost completed to that place from the south. It is expected that the through connection will be made at Wolf Creek, by October 1st. When completed this will be the largest telephone line in the world, reaching from San Diego, Calif., to Spokane, Wash., and connecting nearly 2000 towns.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 29, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Co. will have its line completed to Jacksonville by this evening.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 1, 1898, page 3
Medford now has direct communication with many of the cities and towns of California by telephone, the Sunset line having been completed to this city from the south a few days ago.
Ralph Woodford has charge of the main office of the Sunset Telephone Co. in Medford, which is located in Chas. Strang's drug store. Ralph will no doubt prove himself popular in his new position.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 1, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Co.'s office has been located in the Kubli building, with K. K. Kubli in charge.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 5, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Co. completed its line into Jacksonville last Thursday, and opened an office at Kubli's hardware store, where K. K. Kubli will be manager. Contracts have been made for connection with the courthouse and many of the business houses in town.
"Jacksonville Items," Ashland Tidings, September 5, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Co. is fast completing its lines, and the whole of southern Oregon will soon be connected with San Francisco and Spokane.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 8, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Company have their office in the Kubli hardware store. Miss Valerie Kubli will be in charge.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, September 9, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Company, in setting the poles for their line between Medford and Ashland, set them so close to the line of the Rogue River Telephone Company's that the wires of the latter named company rested in many places against the taller poles of the Sunset line, which made it impossible to transmit messages over the local line for a few days this week. The Sunset people have agreed to remedy the matter by moving their poles or putting insulators on them for the local line.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 9, 1898, page 7
The court house will be connected with the R.R.V. Telephone co.'s system. The 'phone will be located in the county treasurer's office.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 12, 1898, page 3
The refusal of the [Grants Pass] city council to grant the Sunset Telephone Co. a franchise to put in a local telephone system, thus placing us in direct communication with every town and city along its line from San Francisco to Spokane, occasions much surprise.
"Josephine County Items," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 18, 1898, page 2
Oregon and San Francisco were connected by telephone last Friday, and the event was celebrated by the Sunset Co., which allowed its patrons here to converse free of charge with people at the other end of the line.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 29, 1898, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Company has its offices in Dr. Hinkle's drug store.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail, September 30, 1898, page 3
A new telephone line is being erected between Central Point and Eagle Point by the Holmes Bros. These gentlemen have business interests in both of these towns, and a telephone connection will be of the greatest advantage and convenience to them, and to the other business men of the towns. Such improvements are worthy of more than passing notice, and these gentlemen should be regarded as public benefactors.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 19, 1899, page 7
Holmes Bros.' telephone line between Central Point and Eagle Point is well under way. It will prove of much convenience to many.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 29, 1899, page 3
The old 'phones in the offices of the county officials were taken out today, and better instruments substituted therefor.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 24, 1899, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Co. has set a number of new poles in town, which do not embellish our streets by any means.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 31, 1899, page 3
The R.R.V. Telephone Co. has put in fine new instruments, which improve the service very much.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 4, 1899, page 3
The Oregon Telephone Co. have two solicitors in Ashland, who are meeting with good success in securing additional subscribers.
A special effort is being made to secure residence subscribers.
Everyone can afford five cents a day for the convenience of having a telephone in their residence, as the Company intends putting on all-night services.
Ashland Tidings, January 22, 1900, page 3
The central office of the Sunset Telephone Company has just had installed a new machine in this city. It is a "calculagraph," and automatically measures and records time used by patrons in long-distance phoning.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, March 22, 1900, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Company has extended its line into East Medford and has put a new 'phone into Dr. Jones' residence. 'Phones have also been placed in the Rialto cigar store, G. W. Isaacs' and Mrs. J. H. Whitman's residence.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 25, 1900, page 7
J. N. Beck has become a resident of our town, and will engage in the repairing of the Rogue River Tel. Co.'s lines.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 5, 1900, page 2
The Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Co. have bought the Holmes telephone line, which connects Eagle Point with the system.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail, December 7, 1900, page 3
The Rogue River Telephone Company has sold its line, about sixty miles in length, to the Sunset Company. The property has not been turned over as yet, but it is not expected that any hitch will occur in the proceedings which will in any way interfere with the sale.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, December 28, 1900, page 7
Sunset Company Buys Rogue River Valley Line.
MEDFORD, Or., Jan. 7.--The Rogue River Valley telephone today passed into the control of the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company. All telephones on the former line were today taken out by the latter and broken up with the ax. The Rogue River Valley line connected the towns of Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland, and all intermediate towns. It was a paying investment for the stockholders, and was undoubtedly bought by the Sunset at an advanced price. The lines are being torn down now. This will leave the towns of Woodville and Eagle Point without any telephone connection. It is understood that the line from Rock Point to Grants Pass will not be torn down, there being no competition.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 8, 1901, page 5
The Sunset Telephone Co. has absorbed the local telephone company, and hereafter will control all that kind of business done in southern Oregon.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 10, 1901, page 7
The Sunset Telephone Company's construction crew are here in town removing the old valley line and making necessary changes. They will soon begin the construction of the Gold Hill and Sams Valley line, the poles already being on the ground.
"Gold Hill Items," Medford Mail, February 1, 1901, page 3
Miss Lillian Barr, the very efficient "hello" girl on the Sunset Telephone line at Chas. Strang's drug store, was ill this week with la grippe. Joe Slinger filled her position during her illness.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 15, 1901, page 7
J. W. Holman and his force are engaged in putting up the telephone line between Jacksonville and Ruch.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 14, 1901, page 7
Miss Florence Toft has accepted the position of telephone girl at the central office in Strang's drug store, vice Miss Lillian Barr, resigned, who with her sister, Mrs. Ada Mills, will leave in a couple of weeks for San Francisco. Mrs. Mills goes to take her little son to the hospital for treatment, and Lillian will take a course in a business college.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, March 15, 1901, page 6
The telephone line between Jacksonville and Ruch was completed today, and Applegate is now joined by wire with the balance of the world.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 21, 1901, page 5
E. H. Parker, who has a force of men at work on the telephone line which is being constructed between here and Ruch, was in town last Wednesday upon business.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, March 22, 1901, page 3
We are now in touch with the people of America by telephone from Sams Valley, after 1900 years of waiting.
"Beagle Items," Medford Mail, April 19, 1901, page 5
The Sunset telephone line, recently built to Ruch, is already proving satisfactory to both Mr. Ruch and the company, although some had predicted but little patronage for such a line.
"Union Precinct News," Medford Mail, April 26, 1901, page 3
According to reports there is a probability of an independent telephone system being established on the Pacific coast in the near future. The system, if established, is to extend all over the Pacific coast and will compete with the Pacific Coast Telephone Company, which recently has secured control of all telephone lines in Oregon, Washington and California, and which has turned down all competitive lines. The stimulus to a competitive service was given by a decision rendered in the United States court at Boston early in the year involving the validity of the Berliner patent on a transmitter. The court held in the suit of the American Telephone Company against the National Telephone Company and the Century Telephone Company that the Bell Telephone Company has not an exclusive right to the use of the transmitter and receiver employed in telephone conversation. Eastern capital is said to be backing the new company, which will build lines in Oregon, Washington and California, connecting with all intermediate points.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 3, 1901, page 7
Jacksonville's telephone office has been located in J. Nunan's popular mercantile establishment. First-class service is assured the public.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 19, 1901, page 7
Warren Williams, lineman for the telephone company, spent two days here, this week, putting in phones.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail, October 25, 1901, page 3
An ordinance was passed licensing [the] telephone company and restricting their operations as to putting up poles and attaching wires to buildings and trees. Consent must be secured from the street commissioner and interested parties before wires can be attached to any tree within the corporate limits of the city and from the owner or agent of any building. The license was placed at $100 per year, and the use of phones shall not be more than $1.50 per month.
"Meeting of City Council," Medford Mail, December 20, 1901, page 3
H. D. Austin:--"Yes, sir, my business is first-class in every way. I am kept hustling to get in enough stuff to keep my customers supplied. Why, I am very much surprised that the flour and feed business amounts to as much as it does. Yes, we have free delivery and a telephone. Easiest thing in the world to place an order with us. You press the button, we do the rest."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 17, 1902, page 7
The Sunset Telephone Company has not as yet paid its annual license, of $100, into the city treasury as provided by an ordinance recently passed by the city council. The ordinance provides that the license must be paid by February 1st of each year. There is considerable speculation going the rounds as to whether the company will pay or will discontinue the service in the city.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 24, 1902, page 7
Our city council has passed an ordinance requiring the Sunset Telephone Co. to pay a license tax of $100 a year. This is the right kind of legislation.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 30, 1902, page 5
The Sunset Telephone Company Has Filed an Injunction Restraining Medford City Authorities from Enforcing Ordinance.
From the Oregonian.
By a temporary injunction, granted yesterday in United States District Court, the entire city government of the town of Medford, in Jackson County, was restrained from taking any action toward the removal from the streets of that town of the telephone and telegraph lines of the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company. April 8 is set as the date for a hearing in the matter, if the authorities of Medford desire to show why the injunction should not be made perpetual.
December 17 last the Medford council passed an ordinance requiring, among other things, that the telephone company should pay into the city treasury an annual license fee of $100, that the monthly charge for telephone, instruments and service should not exceed $1.50, and that, if the telephone company should fail to comply with the terms of the ordinance by February 1, the city authorities should proceed to cut down and destroy the lines in the city. The ordinance was approved by Mayor Crowell the same day it was passed by the council. The city has made demand upon the company to comply with the terms of the ordinance, and the company has respectfully declined. To avoid destruction of its property and to get the matter before the courts for adjudication, the telephone company presented its petition for injunction, accompanying it with a long statement of the relations of the company and the town of Medford.
The company recites that it is a California corporation; that it is authorized by the United States Postal Department to transmit government messages, telephone and telegraphic; that it has for a number of years had its lines in unquestioned operation in the city of Medford, giving the city no trouble and contributing to the convenience of doing business there; that the license fee of $100 exacted by the ordinance passed last December is unreasonably large and oppressive, and entirely out of proportion to any extra service that might be required by the city government by reason of the presence of the lines in the city; that the monthly charge of $1.50 authorized by the ordinance is inadequate to the support of so small an exchange, the number of subscribers being only 69; that the ordinance in question violates the United States Constitution in several particulars, the chief one being that it seeks to impose restrictions on interstate commerce. The petitioner admits that a license fee of $20 might not be unreasonable.
The injunction order names the Mayor, all the Councilmen, the City Recorder and the City Marshal, and commands all to refrain from molesting or in any wise interfering with the business or property of the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company.
Papers were served upon all of the above officers last Saturday. It is probable the matter will be attended to in Portland by an attorney employed in that city by the city council of Medford.
Medford Mail, February 7, 1902, page 2
The Sunset Telephone Co. has commenced a suit in the U.S. district court for an injunction against our city government, which levied a license of $100 a year on that corporation's business in Medford, and was about to remove its poles and wires because it would not pay the tax. The expensive and protracted litigation which is promised should be averted in some way.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 13, 1902, page 5
O. B. Gates of Hillsboro was in Ashland recently to arrange for the construction of the Ashland, Klamath and Lakeview telephone line, an enterprise started by his father, H. V. Gates. A carload of wire and tools have already arrived. The destination of the new line as already published is Alturas, California.
"Southern Oregon News," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 3, 1902, page 2
The Medford Telephone Case.From Monday's Portland Evening Telegram.
Argument was heard this morning before Judge Bellinger in the United States Court as to whether the City of Medford has the right to impose a special yearly license of $100 upon the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company. The case came up on an order for the city to show cause why it should not be enjoined from imposing such a license.
Last December the city council of Medford passed an ordinance by the terms of which the telephone company was to be required to pay a yearly license of $100, and also regulating the price of telephones, making the monthly price $1.50. As the company refused to obey the ordinance the city government was about to take down the poles when a bill in equity was filed in the United States Court, and the city enjoined from proceeding further.
The company claimed that such an ordinance would interfere with interstate commerce laws, under which the Sunset Company acts; that the yearly tax was excessive, and that the city had not the right to regulate the price of telephones. It was stated that the company has 61 telephones in the city of Medford, and that while it would be willing to pay a yearly license of $20, it could not pay the larger amount.
Watson & Beekman appeared for the City of Medford this morning. Judge Watson, who made the argument, admitted that the city could not interfere with interstate commerce, but contended that this was not a tax on the entire system, but on the local lines used in Medford, which, he said, the council has a right to impose.
As to the matter of regulating the price of telephones, he admitted the city was going beyond its authority in that respect. E. C. Pillsbury, of San Francisco, who represented the company, argued that the entire ordinance was invalid, but said his company would agree to pay $20, which was a just tax in view of the small amount of business done in that city.
The matter will be taken under advisement.
Medford Mail, April 11, 1902, page 2
OUR TOWN LOSES CASE.
PORTLAND, Ore., May 7.--A decision against Medford was rendered yesterday in the United States court in the case of the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company vs. Medford. Judge Bellinger held that Medford had no right to impose a license of $100 per annum on the plaintiff company.
According to the decision the ordinance imposing the fine or tax is null and void. The judge said that a city can fix a license only at figures which will cover the expense of issuing the license; a city cannot add to the conditions under which a franchise was originally granted. The town of Medford will have to show better cause before the case will be again considered by the court.
"Latest Dispatches," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 8, 1902, page 1
Medford Loses Telephone Case.From the Portland Telegram.
That the City of Medford has no right to impose a license of $100 per annum on the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company was the ruling of Judge Bellinger in the United States Court this morning, and the injunction restraining the city from removing the poles and wires is still in force.
Some time ago the city council passed an ordinance fixing the annual license to be paid by all telephone companies at $100 per year, and also fixing the rate for telephones at $1.50 a month. The Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Co., deeming this excessive, refused to pay it, and when the officers commenced to make preparations for removing the poles and wires from the city a suit to enjoin them from doing so was brought in the United States Court. The case was argued some days ago, and a decision rendered this morning.
Judge Bellinger stated that this would be without the authority of the city and the ordinance was therefore void. The court explained that a city can fix a license only at figures which will cover the expense of issuing a license and other possible expenses, and that such a license would be a tax that could not be levied. "In short," he said, "a city cannot add to the conditions upon which the franchise was originally granted, although a license within reason is legal."
The court stated there was no need to take up the other phase of the question as to the monthly rate of $1.50, the defendant having admitted that such a prohibition or restriction would be void. The demurrer to the bill of the complaint was accordingly overruled.
The attorneys for the defense took ten days in which to answer, but the restraining order is in force and will continue so unless the defendants can show better cause why they should not be allowed to impose the license of $100 per annum.
Medford Mail, May 9, 1902, page 3
City of Medford Loses.
Judge Bellinger has declared that the city of Medford had no power to tax the franchise of the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company. The suit was brought by the latter to enjoin the city of Medford from removing the poles and wires of the complainant from the streets of that city, under an ordinance imposing a license upon the company of $100 per year, and requiring an agreement not to charge customers in Medford more than $1.50 per month for its services.
The question involved was the power of the city under its charter. The court said that when the city gave the company a franchise, it might have charged for the franchise, but it did not. The court held that in the charter of the city the power of license, as a means of regulating all business, implies a power to charge a fee therefor sufficient to defray the expenses of issuing the license and to compensate the city for any expense incurred in maintaining such regulation. Whenever it is manifest that the fee for the license is substantially in excess of what it should be, it will be considered a tax and the order imposing it void.
The provision of the ordinance in regard to charging no more than $1.50 per month for telephone service was not insisted upon by defendant. It invalidity was conceded, and it was therefore not necessary to consider it. The demurrer to the bill of complaint was overruled.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, May 15, 1902, page 1
An ordinance was passed authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Sunset Telephone Company, giving said company a ten years' franchise to operate their telephone lines within the city limits upon the payment of a yearly license of $20 and the furnishing of three telephones to the city for its use free of charge.
"Meeting of City Council," Medford Mail, June 13, 1902, page 2
The Sunset Telephone Company is having three more telephones put in for the city, which will make an even seventy-five telephones on the Medford circuit. The new phones are at Mayor Crowell's office, at the city recorder's office and at the city light and pumping station.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, July 4, 1902, page 6
J. H. Thatcher, manager of the Sunset Telephone Company in Oregon, spent a day here last week.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail, July 25, 1902, page 3
The county court, in an effort to practice economy in county expenses, has had the telephone taken out of the courthouse, and now persons having business with the county officials and desiring to use the telephone will have to pay ten cents for a messenger to summon the party wanted at the Jacksonville central office. As all the important places in Jackson County are connected by telephone, it causes quite an inconvenience to business men not having telephonic connection with the courthouse.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 1, 1902, page 7
The Midway Telephone and Telegraph Company, a local company, completed its new telephone from Ashland to Klamath Falls last Saturday, and it is now ready for business.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 14, 1902, page 3
For several years there was but one telephone in the courthouse, and that one was in the sheriff's office. During the last few weeks 'phones have been installed in the clerk's and treasurer's offices, and today one was put in Assessor Burton's office, making four altogether in the courthouse.--Eugene Guard. This telephonic convenience at Lane County's courthouse is in marked contrast to that of Jackson County's courthouse. This county has had one telephone in the courthouse ever since the system was established here, but last week the county court ordered it removed, and now if a person wishes to communicate with the county officials they will have to call them to central and pay 10 cents extra for messenger service.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 14, 1902, page 6
Ordered that Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. be allowed to place in court house three transmitters, upon the express agreement that all county officials shall have free switching in Jackson County on official business, upon the payment by the county to said company of $3 per month.
"County Commissioners' Court," Medford Mail, September 12, 1902, page 2
A "busy man" makes a well-founded complaint that many users of the telephone drop the instrument after calling the central office for a number, then have to be called up by the party wanted, who is thus kept waiting. Stay with the 'phone a reasonable time before leaving it..
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 2, 1902, page 1
Sunday evening some new wires put up by the telephone company between the residences of A. A. Davis and L. B. Warner crossed with the town's electric light wires, and the consequent difference of opinion between the two brands of electricity resulted in the burning out of the fuses in several telephones and also in the electric light system. The town was in darkness for some time until the difficulty was found and remedied, which was very promptly done.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 14, 1902, page 7
The Pacific States Telephone Co. has opened offices at Ray's dam and Siskiyou, which will prove quite a convenience.
"Brief Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 11, 1903, page 2
Miss Ryal Bradbury is night operator at the telephone office, and giving general satisfaction.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 13, 1903, page 3
The Sunset Telephone Company has put an additional switchboard in its central station in this city, in the Strang drug store, and it will be put into service within a few days. There are now 198 patrons of the line in Medford and fourteen more to be added just as soon as the new board is hitched up. There have been fifty new 'phones put on the line this spring. The new board will handle all the long-distance work and the overplus of city work. The addition will necessitate the employment of two operators.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 14, 1905, page 5
Rogue River Valley farmers are getting the rural telephone habit like the progressive agriculturists in other parts of the country. One or two lines have been built out of Medford, and the latest rural line is among the farmers of Talent precinct, who will soon be connected with the local exchange of the Sunset Company, at Ashland, and have free switching with the latter place. They are now building the line from the telephone company's main line, and will lease the telephones and have the company keep them in order.
"Wealth in Pines," Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 26, 1906, page 12
The Very Latest for Medford.
Medford people, especially those who are patrons of the telephone system in the city, will be feeling pretty good when they learn of the improvements which are to be made in the system here. The telephone company's representative was in Medford last week, and in company with Chas. Strang, the local manager, made a tour of inspection of the entire line in the city, and as a result of such inspection the following letter has been received:
PORTLAND, Oregon, June 19, 1906.
Mr. Chas. Strang, Agent.
Medford, Oregon.DEAR SIR:--I have your letter of June 18th as to improvements to be made at Medford.
Our engineering department have already in hand an up-to-date common battery system for Medford, which means that most of the wires on the outside will be in cables, thus eliminating all trouble from crossed wires, and that each subscriber will have a new telephone of the common battery type; that is, all battery [sic] will be at the central office.
There will be no cranks to turn; the signals coming into the central office by an electric light [sic] when the subscriber takes his telephone off the hook.
Yours truly,This means that Medford will have a telephone system more modern and very unlike any other in Southern Oregon--and for all of which our good townspeople will be duly and sufficiently grateful. The old system has been a great annoyance--and in many instances very inefficient--but we are going to forget all about these perplexing circumstances and instances of the past and think only of the good features of the new arrangements.
J. H. THATCHER,
Medford Mail, June 22, 1906, page 1
The Sunset Telephone Company have set aside the 10th of each month as a day on which all of the offices on their system shall keep a record of all local calls made. Monday of this week was the "count" day this month, and Medford girls report that there were 1853 calls made. That is going some from a hello point of view. Think of saying "number" 1853 times in one day--and besides this there are those differences of opinion as to the time of day and where the lines are crossed and various other little sideline pleasantries calculated to strew roses along the pathway of the hello girl. It will keep you busy if you keep pace with the Medford telephone girls.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, December 14, 1906, page 5
New Telephone Line.
The new rural telephone line connecting several farms west of Medford with this city was finished last week, and on Saturday the final connections were made, and now those people are in hello distance of Medford. The territory covered by this line has always been more or less tributary to Jacksonville and Central Point, but the establishment of the new road laid out recently, making the distance about equal between the three towns, they have been turning more of their attention to Medford. The telephone brings them in direct communication with our merchants and townspeople.
The subscribers are Wilbur Jones, A. H. Miller, W. H. Stewart, H. C. Maury, O. Bursell, Tyson, Ben and Vint Beall and Wm. Lewis.
Medford Mail, July 26, 1907, page 1
Medford--The Medford-Blue Ledge Telephone Company has been organized and will build a line to Blue Ledge, with a branch to the Sterling mine. The distance is about 35 miles.
The Commercial West, August 17, 1907, page 48
OREGON.Medford--Work on a prospective telephone line between this place and Blue Ledge has begun. F. C. Page is president of the company.
The Commercial West, August 24, 1907, page 48
OREGON.Medford--The Medford-Blue Ledge Telephone & Telegraph Company has been organized at Medford and the following officers elected: President, F. C. Page; vice president, Charles Strang; treasurer, W. I. Vawter; secretary, Holbrook Withington; general manager, Walter H. Parsons; directors, F. C. Page, Charles Strang, W. H. Parsons, A. E. Reames and H. Nicholson. Lines are to be erected from Medford to the Blue Ledge, with a branch to the Sterling Mine.
The Commercial West, August 31, 1907, page 43
Grants Pass.--A telephone line from Jacksonville, Oregon to Grants Pass is to be erected by the government.
Jacksonville.--The Medford-Blue Ledge Telephone Company is building a line from Jacksonville to Blue Ledge.
The Commercial West, September 28, 1907, page 55
THE NEW RURAL TELEPHONE.
A new rural telephone line is now under construction leading from Medford to the Western Orchard Co.'s property and to the Medford coal mine, and incidentally taking in several farmers along the line.
The line will be very substantially constructed, using cedar poles, cross bars, etc., like a regular main line. The length of the line will be about nine miles, including all the crooks and turns, and will prove a big convenience. It is sometimes pretty difficult to induce a farmer to put up the necessary money to build a telephone line--something he has done without all his life--as he can't see the particular use for it. But once he gets it, finds out how many trips to town it saves him, how much time he saves by talking to his neighbors instead of making a trip there and back, and what a convenient thing it is all around, he wouldn't be without it for twice the original cost.
This line is being constructed by the Rogue River Electrical Construction Co., which is in itself a guarantee of first-class, up-to-date work.
Medford Mail, December 13, 1907, page 1
The telephone central is soon to be moved from the rear of the drug store of Charles Strang to their new quarters in the post office building. Mr. Strang has given up his place as local superintendent, the vacancy being filled by H. Patterson, who was sent from Portland by the company to take charge of the local field. The plant is to [be] enlarged, and the transfer to the new office is to be made as soon as possible.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 13, 1908, page 5
Have To Move Poles.
The city engineer is after the telephone and electric companies with his "big stick," and as a consequence the companies will commence within a very short time to remove all of their poles in Seventh Street and other unimproved streets so that they will not stand in the gutter and obstruct the flow of storm water. The poles are to be reset inside of the curbing. At present the poles are in the gutter, and aside from the fact that they do not add anything to the beauty of the street, they are the cause of obstruction of the gutters, which is a serious matter after a heavy rain storm. At present a glance up or down Seventh Street shows the poles in a very irregular line. When they are placed inside of the curbing and in a straight line they will look some better at any rate. The reason that the engineer took up the matter is that Seventh Street is soon to be paved, and the poles must be out of the way prior to that work. The companies have both signified their intention to move the poles as soon as they can do so.
Medford Mail, April 24, 1908, page 1
The telephone company is soon to remove a great many of their overhead wires and substitute cables. While this work is being done a person must not be surprised to find more 'phones than usual on his line, for the company is forced to put as many telephones as possible on one wire while the change is being made. The central office is soon to be removed to the new location next to the post office.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 24, 1908, page 5
TELEPHONE SERVICE BETTER.
Since W. K. Merrill has been looking after the Pacific Telephone Company's business in Medford there has been made a great number of improvements in the service, and there was need of it.
New batteries have been placed in nearly all the phones in the city, and those not so supplied will be within the next few days. Much new wiring has been done, and the entire system has been gone over systematically and placed in as good shape as is possible. With all these improvements added, the possibility of a mixup of lines will be avoided. Another switchboard has been installed, and many of the phones renumbered and placed on new lines. Another long-distance booth has been put in, and the Hotel Nash has been made a "pay station."
Aside from the improvements already named, there are to be some changes made as to the office arrangements. A manager's office, 9x17 in size, with a wood and glass partition with wickets for transaction of business, will be built in the main room near the front, while other similar partitions will be placed, setting the operators' room off from the general public. This will give the office a better and more businesslike appearance and will do away with the seeming vacant and barren look of the office as heretofore.
A few weeks ago these columns said a free switching system with Central Point would be established. This it has been decided not to establish.
Medford Mail, September 11, 1908, page 1
CITIZENS' CO. WINS ELECTION
By a vote of 322 to 125 in the election Friday the Citizens' Telephone Company won the fight for its franchise. The vote was a light one as compared to the last city election, at which 926 votes were cast.
The fight for the franchise was characterized by hard fighting through the press by both the Citizens' Telephone Company and the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, but the public seemed to take absolutely no interest in the campaign.
In this respect the fight differed widely from that carried on in Grants Pass by the same companies. There the town has been split into factions, and hard feelings have arisen between the supporters of the rival companies.
The city council of Grants Pass voted to give the Citizens' company a franchise; the mayor vetoed it and the council filed an affidavit to the effect that the vote sustaining the mayor in his veto was invalid for the reason that the question was not put to the council in the manner provided by the charter. There the matter rests.
It is surmised, now that the Home company has won Medford, it will leave no stone unturned to secure a franchise in Grants Pass. If it fails to make stick the point that the vote on the sustaining of the mayor's veto was not properly put, it is believed that it will bring the matter to a referendum vote of the people.
In Medford the fight was won by the old company in every skirmish until the vote of the people was taken yesterday.
When the new company appeared before the council the matter was referred to the street committee, which recommended the granting of a franchise to the new company. When the matter came before the council the committee's report was not sustained, at least the new committee feared that it would not be, and the petition for a franchise was withdrawn from the council and submitted to a vote of the people.
Following is the vote by wards: First ward, yes 82, no 46; second ward, yes 119, no 48; third ward, yes 131, no 31. Totals: Yes 322, no 125.
Medford Mail, March 26, 1909, page 2
A carload of new equipment for the local office of the Pacific Telephone Company arrived in Medford yesterday, and it took all day to transfer it from the depot to the storerooms of the telephone office. It is expected that inside of a month all the new telephones and the switchboard will be installed in Medford.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, June 4, 1909, page 2
TROUBLES NOW THING OF THE PAST
The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company have their new office equipment nearly installed, and many conveniences are added.
The new system when it is in operation will be a better one than any city in the state has, save Portland. There is not another system so entirely and completely up to date as is this one.
The new center energy common battery system is being installed, and it of itself means completeness and efficiency. There are six division boards, four of which are for local work and two for long distance. These boards are so arranged that any one of the operators at any of the boards can reach and connect with any of the lines of any other board without changing her position, notwithstanding the fact that the boards may be 20 feet apart. With the new system, when the receiver is taken down in your residence or place of business an electric light is turned on in the central station, and the light continues to burn until your call is answered, and when the receiver is again hung up another light is turned on, which indicates to the central operator that the line is clear and ready for another call.
The Operating Boards.In addition to the above-mentioned operator boards, there are two others, one of which is for the use of the chief operator, who can "plug in" at any time and relieve the operator of the task of line discussions or complaints from patrons, and when either patron or operator gets "gay" and talk back, the chief can "butt in" and "get cases" on who's who--and why. The other extra board is for the "wire chief"--who is the man in charge of all equipment. If lines are found to be out of repair by the men working outside they can call him up and he will be in a position to locate the trouble from his desk.
Office Well Arranged.The system now installed is wonderfully complete, and the office has been very conveniently and comfortably arranged. The room is 25x60 feet in size; in the front, or business, office, there is a counter over which business may be transacted and where the bookkeeper and manager Buchter's desks are located. There are also two private booths in the front and a large rest seat for waiting patrons. Back of this and cut off by a partition are located the operators, and still back of this is a rest room for operators when not on duty. This is provided with tables and easy chairs; also magazines and other reading matter. The walls of the entire room have been tinted very prettily, and, all in all, the place has a very pleasant, cozy and businesslike appearance.
The woodwork was put in by the Day Planing Mill company and is a credit to that firm.
The capacity of the system is 1000 patrons, which may be increased to 4000 with very little expense at any time found needful. The company now has 800 patrons to this office.
Medford Mail, June 18, 1909, page 6
MEDFORD HAS NEW PHONESMEDFORD, Or., Aug. 9.--(Special.)--The Western Electric Company has completed installation of a $40,000 telephone system in Medford and last night turned it over to the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company.
Central Energy System Installed by Pacific Company.
Frank La Point, with a crew of splicers, has been at work day and night during the past two weeks to get the new cables spliced and thoroughly tested in order to make the cut over from the old magneto system, which took place last night and was a success.
Last Sunday crossed electric wires caused a fire in the telephone office, which burned away a couple of the new cables, which necessitated the men working nights during the whole of last week in order to repair the damage.
Under the common battery central energy system which has been installed at Medford, it is no longer necessary for the people to ring for central, as in the past. Also the new system has a larger capacity, and K. T. Saylor, district foreman, assures the people that the 200 or 300 unfilled contracts for phones will now be attended to immediately. He expects that the present system of 400 phones will be doubled within the next year.
W. R. Logus, head of the operating department, has been instructing the central girls during the past week in regard to the operation of the new board.
A new system has been installed at Grants Pass and Mr. Neuby, of the Western Electric Company, leaves for Ashland tomorrow to install a similar system there.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 10, 1909, page 16
INSTALLS NEW SWITCHBOARD
Another sign as to the progress which Medford is making was shown last night when the new switchboard was put into operation at the local office of the Pacific Coast Telephone Company. The change from the old one to the new was made almost in the twinkling of an eye, and it is doubtful if a single subscriber connected with this exchange was in any way aware of the fact.
In addition to the young lady operators in the operating room of the exchange last night was the local manager, J. J. Buchter, W. R. Logus, transfer chief, and C. F. Saylor, the chief foreman. The latter two had charge of the work of installing the new board and changing the connections from the old one to the new.
Changed Last Night.It was only a few minutes after 10 o'clock last night when the signal was given, the new connection made and the operators walked across the room and took their places. Immediately after the lights on the new board began to twinkle like bright stars. "Number, please," was heard, and then click, click, and three operators were busy, working away as if they had been accustomed to the new board all the time.
The difference in the appearance and the working of the new and the old switchboards must be seen for anyone to thoroughly understand what a great change has taken place in the telephone office in this city, which now ranks among the best in the state, outside of Portland. On the old board, when a call was made a small lid would fall down and then the operator would have to close it up again each time.
Is Great Improvement.Then, too, the operator had to sit so as she could speak into a hanger suspended in front of her. On the new board all this is done away with and everything works automatically. When a call is made a light appears at the number on the board, and as soon as the connection is made the light goes out. Then each operator has an attachment fastened to the front of her dress with a transmitter attached to it. In this she speaks, and it makes no difference if she is several feet away or turned around, as the speaking tube, as it were, is always in front of her.
At the new board are places for four local and two long-distance operators. Along the top is a number of electric lights shaded from the eyes and throwing the light on the board. At the base is a foot rest covered with rubber. This appears to be somewhat narrow until one looks at the feet resting on it, when they can readily see that the aforesaid feet have room to spare.
Install New Phones.So much for the interior of the local telephone exchange, but the company is not resting there by any means. In addition to improving the cable work and the wiring, tomorrow morning workmen begin installing the new phones. These will also be of the latest and will work automatically. That is, when the receiver is taken from the hook the signal for a call is given on the board. Then, when the receiver is put back on the hook that breaks the connection.
One thing which the management asks all the subscribers to be very careful of, and that is leaving the transmitter off the hook. In the old board this did not make much difference, but it does make considerable on the new one, as the light at that number would be going all the time the transmitter is off.
Medford Mail, August 13, 1909, page 3
Medford Conduits Being Laid.
MEDFORD, Or., April 16.--(Special.)--Twenty thousand dollars is to be spent for laying underground conduits for the Pacific Telephone Company in Medford. Two carloads of material arrived today, and a large force of men will be put to work at once. When they are completed, Medford will have more underground conduits than any town of its size on the Coast.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, April 17, 1910, page 5
A move is on foot to connect Talent and Phoenix and North Talent by telephone by private lines, if the Farmers lines in Talent fail to make connection. As there are several who do a good deal of business with the Talent men. [sic]
"Eden Precinct Items," Medford Mail Tribune, August 16, 1910, page 2
PHONES DOUBLED IN LAST YEAR
Pacific Company Expects 2000 Local Phones by Next New Year--
Will Increase Equipment--Chief Operator Has 14 Assistants.
From 678 telephones in operation on December 31, 1909 to 1250 on December 31, 1910, or almost double, are the figures issued by the Pacific States Telephone & Telegraph Company to show their growth in the city of Medford during the last year. Of this number, eight represent private branch exchanges, either already installed or in process of installation, and one private hotel exchange with 51 instruments connected with it, which will shortly be installed in the Nash Hotel.
The figures for last year, compiled by the local branch, show the company now has a sufficient length of wires, overhead and in underground conduits, installed within the city to reach a distance of 4800 miles, if strung out in a single strand.
During the year just ended the company spent close on to $250,000 in improvements, operating expenses and making additions to their local service, and the business of the Medford branch of the company has reached such a proportion that a working force of 50 persons, 15 of whom, under Miss Eifert, are operators, is now required to handle it.
While the appropriation for the coming year has not been made known, it is known that it includes the stringing of two new copper circuits between San Francisco and Portland, on one of which Medford will be given exclusive communication with the latter city. A new multiple switchboard capable of caring for Medford's needs for the next ten years is also assured.
Within the last year all of the company's wires running through the main business thoroughfares of the city have been changed from overhead into underground conduits, and manager L. A. Newton recently completed five-year contracts for intercommunicating service with the lines of the Medford and Butte Falls, Central Point Mutual and the Phoenix companies.
Poles and equipment for the new lines connecting the orchards in the valley with Medford are now here and when completed will place the orchards on an identical service with that enjoyed by subscribers in the residential portion of the city.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1911, page 2
Medford Made Headquarters.
MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 11.--(Special.)--Because Medford is more nearly in the center of the district which that department is required to cover, the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company has moved the headquarters of the plant department for Southern Oregon to this city. The district office was formerly at Eugene, but as the territory takes in the counties from that city to the California line, including Lake and Klamath, general foreman C. E. Anderson moved his headquarters here.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, February 12, 1911, page 55
The past few days we have had two men from Medford with us who have been putting up the new telephone wire from here to Medford on the poles along the right of way of the Pacific & Eastern Railway Company, and by the time this is in print we will have telephone connection, along our own line, with Medford; our old line running to Central Point has been out of commission for some time, and as the company had arranged to make the change and line direct to Medford, they would not go to the expense of fixing up the old line.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail Tribune, June 1, 1911, page 3
TO BETTER LOCAL PHONE SERVICE
Five New Switchboards Will Be Installed by Pacific States Company at Once--
Lower Tolls Will Be Charged Hereafter.
Better local service and lower toll rates will be the result of the improvements being installed by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in this city.
Local service will be increased by the installation of five new switchboards, one of which is already in operation and the others in various stages of completion. Six switchboards have been in use for some little time, and the additions will almost double the capacity of the plant. Each board contains 160 connections and is handled by one operator. Thirteen operators are now employed, and when the work advances the further services of four more will be required.
This arrangement will allow each operator to handle the calls quicker and more accurately. As there are 1500 telephone users it will be seen that the change will be a great benefit.
Toll rates between Medford and Gold Hill, Woodville and Gold Ray will be reduced from 25 cents for a three-minute talk to 15 cents for that length of time and from 10 cents for each additional minute of overtime to 5 cents for each additional minute. A new switchboard is also being installed at Woodville, which will better the service and give longer hours for communication.
The work will require from four to five weeks to complete, but when finished will be a great improvement to telephone users. J. J. Buchter, commercial manager, and C. E. Anderson, general foreman, are doing all in their power to give Medford and vicinity the most efficient system in this part of the country and are in a fair way of accomplishing it.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 18, 1911, page B8
Home Telephone Co. Crew in the Rogue Valley, November 1911
HOME PHONE IN ASHLAND SOON
Suit to Restrain New Company from Building into Ashland
Will Not Be Pressed According to Vote of City Council.
ASHLAND, Nov. 3.--That the suit to restrain the Home Telephone Company from building into Ashland will not be pressed by the city was decided at the meeting of the council, the vote being three to three and Mayor Neil casting the decisive ballot.
When the company started to build its line into the city a couple of weeks ago, the business men of the city protested against the second telephone company being permitted to force a dual system on the people here. They demanded that the city press the suit started about a year ago to prevent the company's building in, it being alleged that their franchise had been rendered void because of their not having started work within the specified time.
The company does not yet know positively which system it will install here, but says it intends to have it in by spring.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 3, 1911, page 6
PHONE COMBINE MADEMEDFORD, Or., July 4.--(Special.)--The Home Telephone Company, operating in Medford and the Rogue River Valley, today took over the entire plant and equipment of the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company and hereafter there will be but one telephone system in Southern Oregon.
HOME COMPANY IN ROGUE VALLEY TAKES UP OPPOSITION.
New System Operating from Medford Throughout Southern Oregon Deal--$1,000,000.
C. H. Moore, of Portland, represented the Pacific company and F. H. Crosby, of San Francisco, the Home company. The amount of money involved was not made public, but the consolidation will mean the merging of systems valued at $1,000,000. The new system will operate from Medford throughout Southern Oregon connecting with every town of any importance, and will greatly improve the services, giving every phone subscriber the communication with every other subscriber.
Medford capital is represented in the transaction, and the new officers will be the following Medford men: W. H. Gore, president; C. L. Reames, vice president; George C. Ulrich, secretary and treasurer; A. J. Vance, manager. The Home Telephone Company entered the field a year ago last January, after the Pacific company was established.
It has been generally known that they have operated at a loss, and the two systems met with general dissatisfaction with the subscribers.
----J. B. Middleton, secretary and manager of the Portland Home Telephone & Telegraph Company, said last night:
"The local Home Telephone Company has no connection either in the way of lines or finance with the Medford corporation. The Portland company's lines extend as far as Albany, but in the near future there is a probability that the lines will be extended to Medford, with the merging or the two companies into one or else the working of the systems on a cooperative basis."
Morning Oregonian, Portland, July 5, 1912, page 3
Telephone linemen somewhere in the Willamette Valley, circa 1915
SELLS ITS LOCAL PLANT
Home Telephone Company of This City
Buys Local Plants of Pacific Company in Southern Oregon.
The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company have sold their local plants in Medford, Jacksonville, Central Point, Gold Hill and Rogue River to the Home Telephone Company of this city. The consideration was not made public.
The deal was consummated on Wednesday afternoon at a meeting of the board of directors of the Home Telephone and Telegraph Company. The toll line or long distance service of the Pacific company is not passed to the Home company by this arrangement. In a great many places the Pacific company has transferred and sold its local telephone exchange business to the local home company; particularly is this true in the cities of Los Gatos, Gilroy, Reedsley, in California, La Grande, in Oregon, and Renton and Kent, in Washington.--Mail Tribune.
Jacksonville Post, July 6, 1912, page 2
The Pacific Telegraph and Telephone Company are having their poles reset in Jackson and Josephine County. A force of men are now working in this city.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, May 1, 1915, page 6
Supt. Steel has completed arrangements whereby work will commence soon on a telephone line from Prospect to Crater Lake. This was made possible by the forestry service and private subscriptions. When completed, which will be in a few weeks, this will give a direct line to the lake via Prospect instead of around by Klamath Falls.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, June 13, 1915, page 2
MEDFORD OPERATORS STRIKEMEDFORD, Or., July 3.--(Special.)--Telephone service in Medford was seriously crippled today, when the girl operators walked out as a protest against certain regulations of the management. According to the girls, the strike is not in sympathy with the coast walkout, but was induced largely by local conditions. The main complaint is the refusal of the management to grant the maximum wage after three years service, instead of five. The girls also asked for $4 a day maximum, but agreed to accept $3.11.
Local Difficulties Cause Move; Linemen Ont in Sympathy.
C. C. Vanhoutee, general manager of the Pacific Telephone Company, arrived in Medford this morning from Eugene and brought five girl operators, who were able to maintain a makeshift service.
The telegraph men of the Home Telephone repeating station who walked out Monday declare their action was not due to any dissatisfaction with their wages or working conditions, but was solely in the interest of the girl operators, who did not strike until today. Company officials would make no statement.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, July 3, 1919, page 6
LOCAL PHONE OFFICES ARE UNDER GUARD
Striking Girl Operators Place Pickets Before Doors of Local Telephone Exchanges--
Strike Breakers Are Interviewed As They Come and Go--Medford Girls Join Union.
Pickets were placed before the local telephone exchanges today, and all girl operators at work were subjected to vigorous interrogation--regarding their stand in regard to the telephone strike. No coercion or violence was reported, the picketers merely explaining the reasons for the strike and the advantage of all the girls standing together. Although local service was maintained normally Monday, and has been nearly normal the last few days, Miss Nealeigh, local organizer from Portland, said the service will get steadily worse from now on.
"We must win this strike or the union fails," said Miss Nealeigh today, "and the union can not fail. I expect to see a settlement soon. The girls all over the state are now out and the service seriously crippled. Medford I admit has shown little signs of the strike in the phone service as yet. But there will be a marked change in a day or two. Grants Pass is asleep. There is nothing doing there. But the girls elsewhere are awake, and they will win."
Sunday the local girl strikers from the Home Telephone Company were organized into a union by Miss Nealeigh of Portland, to be known as sub-local 44A, Portland. This means the local girls will now have the support of the union, and will not return to work until the coast strike is settled. The girl operators who walked out in Portland receive 40 cents a meal and free lodging from the union, and the same benefits will probably be given the local girls, although no definite information to this effect has been received as yet.
According to Miss Nealeigh the striking operators here and throughout the state now stand for the same thing. This is not a sympathetic strike but a state strike for certain definite concessions from the company. First the girls ask $2 a day for beginners and $4 per day in three years. Second, they ask for back pay at this rate from January 1st to the date of settlement. Third, they demand two weeks' vacation with pay instead of one week with and one week without. Fourth, they ask double time holidays and Sundays.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 7, 1919, page 1
The striking telephone girls of Medford were happy today that the strike had been settled, and every one of them signed up for their old jobs with the Home and Pacific Telephone and Telegraph companies at 8 a.m. It is not known when they will be returned to work, but manager Hammond of the Home company said that he expected orders within a few days from headquarters as to putting the girls to work again and what to do as regards the girls who took their places. The men strikers of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph company all returned to work today. Not much is known in Medford as to the basis of settlement, but the phone girls take it for granted that they won.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, July 21, 1919, page 2
START TIMING OF ALL JACKSONVILLE CALLS
Beginning February 1st the Home Telephone Company, in compliance with the recent order of the Public Service Commission, began keeping a record and timing all Medford-Jacksonville calls. Under the order of the commission a charge of 5 cents is made on all calls over three minutes or fraction thereof. Thus a call of three and one-half minutes would be 5 cents, and a call of over six minutes would be 10 cents, and so on.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 5, 1920, page 6
Pacific Telephone Building, March 19, 1927 Medford Mail Tribune
TO OCCUPY NEW PHONE HOME, 12M.
Pacific T. & T. Co. to 'Cut Over' Service at Midnight Without Interruption--
Modern Equipment and Building Cost $80,000--Switchboard Only One in State.
At midnight tonight the new long distance building of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company will be cut into service. Installation of equipment, which has been progressing since last October, when the building was turned over to the telephone company by Dougman & Chrisman, contractors, is now completed and the building is ready for use. There will be no interruption of service during the cutover.
In order that the people of Medford may have a better opportunity to inspect the new building and its equipment, it is planned to hold "open house" for all visitors next Monday. L. W. Campbell, in charge of the cutover, together with Grant Hill, equipment man, and several assistant repeatermen, will endeavor to explain the nature and purpose of the equipment in the new building at this time. In conjunction with the reception of visitors at the new long distance building, R. B. Hammond, manager of the Home Telephone and Telegraph Company, announces that "open house" will also be held at the local exchange on Monday, so that interested persons will be enabled to get a complete perspective of the telephone equipment, both local and long distance, available for their service in Medford.
The new long distance building is centrally located at the southwest corner of Bartlett and Fifth streets on a lot 100x100 feet in dimensions. Constructed of brick, 54 feet wide by 55 feet long, it is so designed that it may be extended to the rear and the side whenever growth in business dictates expansion. Pressed brick and terra cotta make up the exterior surface of the building, which is of a pleasing modern design. The building cost $45,000 to construct.
Equipment aggregating $135,000 in cost has been installed to make this long distance station the most efficient possible in handling long distance calls originated in Medford or in conveying those proceeding through this station from and to other points. The switchboard consists of an eight-position Western Electric board of the very latest type. This, at present, is the only installation of this design in Oregon. Six of the eight positions will be in use to take care of long distance traffic originating and terminating in Medford, while the two remaining positions will be available for increased summer traffic. A restroom of attractive appointments has been provided on the main floor for the convenience and comfort of the operators.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1927, page 1
Medford Telephone Calls Simplified
Beginning April 1, a new telephone operating feature is being put into effect by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, according to Myrta E. Otterdale, manager of the telephone company here, which will give quicker service on telephone calls to Medford. From now on, according to Miss Otterdale, neighborhood telephone service will be in effect to this point. Ashland telephone patrons will be able to obtain connections with telephones in Medford without the necessity of calling "long distance." This does not apply where it is necessary to specify the particular person to be reached, but in all cases of "station-to-station" calls, where patrons can take advantage of the lower rate on this type of service by asking for the telephone number only. Connections in such cases will be completed as in local calls, and the charge will appear on the regular bill as usual.
All the telephone users have to do, says Miss Otterdale, is to secure the number of the Medford party from the directory and then give the number to the local operator. For example, say, "This is 211. I want Medford 232." This eliminates the necessity of giving such "station-to-station" calls to the long-distance operator and will considerably speed up service. Considerable expense has been incurred by the company in providing the equipment for this service, and it is expected that it will be of material benefit in lessening the time required to place calls to nearby points.
Ashland Daily Tidings, April 1, 1927, page 5
HOME TELEPHONE HAS 3013 USERS
The Home Telephone & Telegraph Company is located in their own quarters at 218 West Main Street under the able management of R. B. Hammond and gives excellent service to its thousands of patrons.
The business has steadily increased since the company was organized, and the number of phones is growing with the community.
In 1914 there were 1673 phones; in 1920 the number was 1735. In 1925 they had increased to 2531, and on December 1st, 1927 there were 3013.
This does not include the phones outside the city of Medford.
It requires twenty telephone girls to operate the twelve switchboards in use day and night. Telephone directories are revised and published twice yearly. The local company has connections with the Pacific Telephone to give long distance service to the local telephone users, day or night.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1928, page G4
HOME PHONE LINE NOW MERGED WITH PACIFIC COMPANY
Consolidation of the Home Telephone and Telegraph Company of southern Oregon, which operates exchanges in Medford, Jacksonville and Gold Hill, with the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company has been granted in an order issued by Frank C. McCulloch, state public utilities commissioner.
The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company has owned a majority of the stock of the Home company for many years and recently obtained 100 percent ownership when approval was given by the state utilities commissioner to acquire 80 shares which were outstanding as of October 31, 1935.
Formal request for permission to consolidate the two companies was made by E. D. Wise, who is vice-president and general manager for the Pacific company in Oregon. R. B. Hammond of Medford is manager for the Home company.
In the request, Wise pointed out that the Pacific company for many years has been supervising operations of the Home company, though the latter company has not actually been a part of the Oregon area organization of the Pacific company.
The corporate name of the Home company will be dropped, and the company will become officially a part of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, which in turn is a part of the nationwide Bell system.
No change in the personnel of the Home company is contemplated, according to Mr. Hammond, who will continue as manager.
The Home company has 25 employees and as of September 30, 1935 was serving 3314 telephones, including 205 farmer line telephones. Of this total 3135 were served by the Medford exchange, 118 by the Jacksonville exchange and 61 by the Gold Hill exchange.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 1, 1935, page 12
ASHLAND PHONES BEING CHANGED TO DIAL SYSTEM
ASHLAND, May 8.--(Spl.)--Representatives of the Western Electric Company are employed at changing the present Ashland central office of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company over to the dial telephone system. Frames for equipment are in place, and within a few weeks lines and switches will be under process of installation in the office. Complete changeover will require about eight weeks, according to W. Perocelli, in charge of the mechanical work.
Over 800 telephones, or stations, will be served by the dial system, which will be prepared to accommodate an eventual 600 additional lines. Various lines range from one-party ones to a possible 10-party hookup on a single line.
The local setup, known as the semi-selective type, will operate with telephones using 4-digit numbers. First three digits in each call number will set impulses working on automatic relays and finders to connect with the proper line and station, and the fourth digit, when dialed, will signal the proper number of rings to user of individual telephones.
H. S. Aikins, local manager, says that the new system will be more effective for local calls and, in addition, will speed up all long-distance calls by making a more direct hookup with the Medford division office, through which long-distance calls from Ashland always are relayed.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 8, 1939, page 8
December 4, 1944 Medford Mail Tribune
HAMMOND, ROBERT Benjamin
Manager, Medford Office, Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company.
b. Ashland, Oregon, Dec. 21, 1884; son of Alanson P. and Emma J. (Black) Hammond; educated public schools Ashland; University of Oregon; Sigma Nu; m. Sarah Virginia Reid, June 8, 1908; children Robert Reid (deceased Anzio beachhead), Bruce Bennett and Sarah Virginia; to Medford 1910; Southern Pacific R.R. 18 months; collector to general manager, Home Telephone and Telegraph Company of Southern Oregon, 1912-35; firm acquired by Bell System, manager to date; extensive pear orchard operator, 90 acres, 1925 to date; City Councilman, Medford 1924-30; vice-president League of Oregon Cities 1928; member Rogue River Golf Club, Chamber of Commerce (ex-director); Mason (Master 1924); Elk; Kiwanian (president 1928); Republican; Protestant; home P.O. Box 975, Fern Valley Road; office 145 N. Bartlett or Box 49, Medford.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 241
TELEPHONE HISTORY RECALLED
Telephones will have been ringing in Gold Hill just over 57 years when April 27 rolls around.
On that day, according to Manager Jack Creager, will be completed a $630,000 service improvement and expansion project in Jackson County. The project includes:
1. Placing in service the new Phoenix-Talent exchange.
2. Introducing new telephone numbers with a prefix in Gold Hill, Jacksonville, Medford, Ashland and Phoenix-Talent.
3. Expanding the local calling area of these exchanges through an extended service program.
Telephone history books show that Gold Hill was the fourth town in the county to get telephone service. That was on March 3, 1900.
Medford was the first community in the county to get telephones. The exchange was established on September 5, 1898. Less than a month later, on October 1, telephones came to Ashland. Then service came to Jacksonville on the first day of March the following year.
The newest of Pacific Telephone's exchanges in the county is Rogue River. It was established on May 23, 1946, with facilities to serve 120 telephones. But the area grew quickly, and in just two years service demands required tripling the size of the building and the capacity of the central office equipment.
In the early days, when telephone exchanges were springing up in the county, Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company was extending long-distance lines between California and Oregon. The company was a subsidiary of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph.
The years 1939 and 1940 saw major improvements of telephone service in the county. Ashland and Gold Hill were converted to dial operation in 1939. Gold Hill had a total of 66 telephones at that time. Medford and Jacksonville got dial telephones the following year. Jacksonville had a total of 133 telephones and Medford 3,961.
By the end of the 1940s when the coaxial cable route had been established between California and the Northwest, Gold Hill had 234 telephones, Jacksonville had 250 and Medford 9,163. The cable expanded long-distance calling facilities and later was also used to carry the first television programs into the Northwest.
Now the company's new microwave radio relay system, placed in service last summer, carries TV programs. The cable is used primarily for telephone conversations. Three relay stations in the microwave system are located in the area. One is near Ashland in Siskiyou Summit. The second is on Baldy Mountain near Medford, and the third on King Mountain about twenty miles due north of Gold Hill.
At the end of last year, according to Creager, the Gold Hill exchange had 492 telephones; Jacksonville 545; Medford 14,717; Ashland 4,054; and Rogue River 726.
The company had a payroll of $1,165,000 in Jackson County in 1956 and paid $159,420 in property taxes to the county. The value of telephone plants in the county at the end of the year was $11,716,000.
As the records show, a lot has happened in the county since the first telephone exchanges were established. And April 27 will be another important entry in Jackson County's telephone history book.
Rogue River Times, April 5, 1957, page 7
Work Starts for Direct Distance Dialing in Area
Pacific Northwest Bell recently started the second major step in its $1.6-million project to bring direct distance dialing (DDD) to Medford and other Jackson and Josephine county towns by midsummer.
Slated to join the DDD network are Medford, Ashland, Central Point, Gold Hill, Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Rogue River and Phoenix-Talent, according to J. H. Creager, local PNB manager.
A crew of Western Electric technicians has been moved into Medford to install the tons of electromechanical equipment that will make it possible to dial directly to about 68 million phones in the U.S. and Canada from the nine communities involved.
L. D. Gilbert, Western Electric project supervisor, said his men, varying number from 18 to 45, will put in some 600 man-weeks of work in the 5,900-square-foot addition to the Medford central office building at 502 North Central Ave.
Target date for the start of DDD in all eight communities is July 14, Creager said.
There are additions and modifications of equipment in the local phone office of each community as well as the major installation in the Medford DDD center. These jobs are being done on a staggered basis by a second crew of Western Electric installers.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 1, 1962, page 1
Phone Numbers to Change Friday
Telephone numbers that look different but work the same will be introduced May 18 to Pacific Northwest Bell customers in Medford, Central Point, Gold Hill, Jacksonville and Phoenix-Talent.
"We call the new number system All-Number Calling," PNB manager Jack Creager said.
Under the ANC numbering system numerals replace the letters in the present telephone numbers.
For example, the Medford telephone number prefixes SP2 and SP3 become 772 and 773 under the new system.
The same holds true for phone number prefixes in the other communities involved. These changes will be Central Point, NO4 to 664, Gold Hill, UL5 to 855, Jacksonville, TW9 to 899, and Phoenix-Talent, KE5 to 535. There is no change in the last four numerals of the numbers.
Two reminders of the pending number changes will be mailed to PNB's customers this week. Telephone number cards to be placed on telephone dials go out in the mail today, according to Creager.
Delivery of new telephone directories starts the same date. Most of them will go by mail. The directories will list the ANC numbers.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1962, page 1
May 16, 1962 Medford Mail Tribune
Telephone Firm Has New Name
United Telephone Company of the Northwest is the new title for the former Oregon Washington Telephone Company, E. R. Dean, president of the firm, announced today. The name was legally changed Nov. 1.
The title change now gives the company identity with United Utilities, Inc., of which it became a part in 1957, he noted.
The telephone property in White City is a part of the incorporation, the spokesman said. The company will continue to function as a subsidiary of the United Utilities, a corporation [with] customers in 15 states and rated as the second largest independent telephone company in the world.
The Oregon Washington Telephone Company dates back to 1905, when W. H. Dean, founder and head of the firm until his death in 1960, opened his first telephone office in Husum, Wash.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 3, 1965, page B7
We Apparently Really Needed Another Area CodeI noticed the new RAM restaurant has a phone number with a 458 area code. Is that the new area code promised for Southern Oregon so many years ago?
--Ben F., Medford
Adding three numerals to your digital lexicon may be confusing. So try equating new area codes to elbow room.
For decades, the state of Oregon got by with a single area code. But times have changed--there are now four million-plus Oregonians, and according to state driver and motor vehicle figures, more are on the way.
All those new folks and the places where they hang out--for work, play and recuperation--often need phone numbers.
Oregon was assigned a 503 area code by AT&T and Bell Laboratories shortly after World War II. That proved enough until Nov. 5, 1995, when the populous northwest corner retained the legacy AC, while the Oregon Public Utilities Commission awarded the rest of the state the 541 designation.
It didn't take Portland's teeming tech world long to surpass its need for telephone exchanges (those three numbers that generally signify where you lived in the land line days), and a 971 area code overlay was created in 1999. By 2008, the abundance of cell phones, pagers, fax machines and other telecommunication devices led OPUC to approve a fourth area code. While it went into effect Feb. 10, 2010, the greatest impact for almost everyone for the next few years was switching to 10-digit dialing.
The first exchange in area code 458 was in Eugene during August 2011. In the past five years, new exchanges have been added in Deschutes, Hood River, Lane and Jackson counties. While there are a handful of established local businesses such as Keith Schulz Garage and Aaron's Autowerks with the new area code, the RAM restaurant was the first that popped up in a Google search.
The portability of telephone numbers has created a hodgepodge allowing newcomers to keep their existing lines, so many people are used to a plethora of area codes. Some business phone systems have had to be reprogrammed to recognize 458, including ours. But then, a few Mail Tribuners still have business cards with a 503 area code, neatly stacked right next to our Olivettis and rotary phones.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 21, 2016, page 3
Last revised March 15, 2017