Providence, RI Storm, Nov 1894


Great Damage Done to Telegraph Wires and Telephones.

From The Providence Journal, Nov. 7.

It is the custom of recent years to compare all storms of sudden and unusual severity with the famous blizzard of 1888, which cut off communication between New-England and other parts of the country for several days. Certainly there has been since that time no more tempestuous of serious blending of the elements than that which came, unwarned and unexpected, Monday night.

It had rained hard through the day, but the indications of the early evening were for a clearing cold wave. Before 10 o'clock the wind increased, and the falling temperature formed the raindrops into big masses of snow, which, with their dampness, hung on the wires and made pedestrianism a matter of considerable labor. The city, or, rather, the major portion of it, retired with the opinion that a big storm was on, but its extent and severity were realized only to those who work while their more fortunate brethren are sleeping.

The newspaper offices had the first intimation of the damage which was being wreaked by wind and storm when their wires refused to work and the press telegraph service gave out. Following this, the wires of the telegraph companies became useless, and messages in all directions were only taken subject to delay. This meant that telegraphic communication between this city and the surrounding country was temporarily at an end.

Linemen were hastily dispatched, but the work was too great for them. Telephone, signal system, telegraph, fire alarm, and all other wires were hopelessly intermixed with each other, telegraph and trolley poles had been leveled in all directions and the confusion admitted of no improvement before daylight. This condition, serious enough under ordinary conditions, became more aggravating in view of the fact that important elections were to take place all over the country, and that rapid information regarding their progress would be out of the question.

The city awoke in the morning to a genuine surprise. There were sections which had the exact appearance of importation from the arctic region. At the Acorn Street crossing hundreds of wires prevented passage across the road, and great poles lay in the road, snapped as if made of paper. Half a dozen of the most powerful poles of the long-distance telephone stretched across Harris-Avenue. Exchange Place was a collection of twisted and bent snow-covered wires. The early arrival in Olneyville Square saw stalled electric cars and a force of men engaged in chopping down an immense pole, which was bent over across the street.

It was the same story on the east side, in South Providence, and in all other parts of the city. The financial damage to the various corporations will run into the hundreds of thousands, outside the crippling of every service dependent upon the wires. During the morning moving wagons ran as barges between the city and Olneyville, a reminder of the days of long ago. Repairs upon the wires were promptly entered upon, but a week or more will elapse before matters are adjusted to their normal condition.

The New York Times, New York, NY 10 Nov 1894