Railroad Signal Telegraphy

The telegraph transformed railroad signaling, making it possible for train operators to send messages ahead of trains for the first time. American inventor Samuel Morse devised the earliest experimental telegraph, and the Cooke and Wheatstone needle telegraph, a later model, first entered commercial use in 1838 when it was adopted by the Great Western Railway in Britain. The system gained wider acceptance after its dramatic role in apprehending British murderer John Tawell in 1845: he had been seen boarding a train at Slough, and this information was telegraphed ahead to Paddington Station, where he was arrested. In 1844, Morse’s telegraph transmitted the words “What hath God wrought” from Baltimore to Washington, ...

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