End of the Telegraph Era
... American railroad involvement with the telegraph, as we know, began in 1844. Seemingly, at one time, virtually everywhere the railroad went, those telltale poles and wires followed it.
Evidently the earliest ancestor of Western Union dates from 1851, and it rose with the railroad industry. ... the railroad industry was already twenty-odd years old when this predecessor telegraphic company was born ...
[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]