Try your hand at being an operator at the Roseville Telephone Museum

An early magneto telephone.
Enlarge / An early 1910-era magneto phone.

Cyrus Farivar

ROSEVILLE, Calif.—I don’t find out about you, however I marvel that, with a tiny gadget in my pocket, I can immediately hear the voice of any of my family members, any time, basically without cost.

After all, this wasn’t at all times the case. I’m sufficiently old (almost 37!) to recollect when the cellphone would ring from abroad relations and my mother and father would remind us to rush to the cellphone: IT’S LONG DISTANCE! And sure, my mother and father used to choose up the cellphone and disrupt my dial-up Web escapades.

However our up to date panorama, replete with theoretically good handputers, has an incredible previous that extends effectively past my lifetime.

So, if you wish to be dazzled at a free museum situated simply exterior Sacramento, might I current to you what could be the nerdiest and most obscure free museum in Northern California: the Roseville Phone Museum. It claims to have “some of the in depth collections of vintage telephones and memorabilia within the nation.”

How, pray inform, did I uncover this tiny locale that solely opens for 4 hours on the primary Saturday of the month? I’ll be trustworthy: it’s up the road from my new favourite brewpub on the town—the closest one to my mother-in-law’s dwelling. (Additionally, it’s throughout the road from Railroad Hobbies, for all of your mannequin practice wants.)

Earlier this month, I stepped inside this small brick constructing, unsure of what to anticipate.

I used to be instantly greeted by a blinding assortment of “Brookfield Insulators”—tiny glass objects whose provenance I by no means would have guessed. There was a Stromberg Carlson Phone (Kind C-Eight, in fact) from 1935 and an Ansafone Company Ansa Fone Phone Answering Machine courting again to 1965.

Probably the most wonderful factor was that this assortment simply saved going, and going, and going. All the things was meticulously labeled and arranged, largely in chronological order.

I used to be grateful for the docents who meandered about and had been all too joyful to not solely reply all my dumb questions, however they had been even smitten by giving dwell demos of a more-than-century-old magneto switchboard.

Just by plugging in a cable, an previous cellphone just some toes away would ring. There was even a mid-20th century automated mechanical switching field, which had changed dwell human operators.

I might have spent hours in that little museum, however I’d arrived not too lengthy earlier than closing time. Perhaps as a result of I’d proven such curiosity within the museum, I used to be handed a big hardback quantity from 1995: Historical past of the Roseville Phone Firm. (I hadn’t talked about to anybody that I used to be a reporter, I swear!)

The ebook defined among the native historical past that I hadn’t gotten from the museum: that for many years, Roseville Phone grew from a tiny small-town telco to a good mid-size firm. Because the ebook’s introduction explains:

Within the early ‘50s, Roseville Phone was among the many smallest of the 5,000 phone firms in existence. At this time, it’s the 24th largest phone firm within the nation and the third greatest in California, after giants Pacific Bell and GTE.

Roseville, initially named Roseville Junction, is a railroad city at its core: the city was named after the 1864-era intersection between the Central Pacific Railroad and the California Central Railroad. In 1906, the Southern Pacific Railroad moved its most important amenities to the city, and Roseville was integrated three years later.

Roseville is, in any case, the “final cease earlier than heading up the lengthy, steep grade of the Sierra Nevada.”

24-hour cellphone service, as offered by the Roseville Residence Phone Firm, started on January 1, 1911. By that yr’s finish, there have been 120 telephones in service, serving a inhabitants of greater than 2,600 individuals. At this time, Roseville has an estimated inhabitants of greater than 132,000 individuals, none of whom lacks phone service.

The ebook goes into excruciating element concerning the evolution of the corporate, which finally modified its title to SureWest Communications following the acquisition of WinFirst Communications, and enlargement into the better Sacramento space.

By 2012, SureWest was acquired by Consolidated Communications, an organization with a really related and wealthy historical past that was based in 1894 as an impartial phone firm serving southern Illinois.

Simply keep in mind, the museum will subsequent be open on Saturday, January 5, 2019, from 10am till 2pm. Mark your calendars.

Staff Writer
The above article is by a guest contributor, or shared from another news outlet.