Shedding Light on the History of Telegraphy!

The Silver City Western Union Office

Dick Springer in front of location
of earliest Silver City Western Union office

The Silver City, New Mexico, Western Union Telegraph Office from 1927 to 1964 when it closed was managed by Mary M. Springer who made 30 cents an hour. The only telegraph operator was Roger B. Springer. The Springers arrived here in 1927 from Lander, Wyoming. They had been married for 3 years at the time. The office initially consisted of a Bunnell straight key, a Foote Pierson sounder, and a bug with a backup for each. In the 1940's the office went to a teleprinter, which the Springers went to Kansas City, Mo., to learn to use. The Western Union office was at 102 Broadway, where the bookstore is now (picture on left). The original Western Union office had been a couple of blocks further west on Broadway.
ca. 1928, Silver City WU office. Mary and
Roger Springer in front, Howard Mann
(later, Mayor) near window. Picture in Silver
City Enterprise, 1953.
Dick Springer was their son and was born and raised in Silver City. He used to do all sorts of odd jobs at the Western Union office his parents ran. He still has desks, chairs, and clocks from the Western Union office. Millie's house of ill repute, located where the Post Office is now, used to have a Western Union clock that ran off the master clock in the Western Union office. Millie's girls would come into the office in the early afternoon and wire money home! The picture on the upper left is the location of the Western Union's later location in Silver City. The move was forced when a Western Union man came to Silver City to see the office. The original location was right next to a mortuary and the ventilation from the building was through two windows over the mortuary. The picture on the right is detail from one of Dick's Western Union clock cases. On the lower left is the Silver City Post Office, formerly the site of Millie's brothel!

ca. 1927 in old building
Roger and Mary Springer in first Silver
WU office bldg

--from an interview with Dick Springer, June 19, 1997

Average Salaries in Wages Per Day of Telegraph Operators in Different Countries in 1901. Hours per week varied from 56 to 84. Adapted from American Telegraphy and Encyclopedia of the Telegraph by William Maver, Jr.

Click on a country name to show the daily wage

1980's VA Poster
Recognizing the Nation's
Women Veterans
Detail of lower right corner
Showing Woman on Bug

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