US GOVERNMENT CABLE OFFICE
219 Sixth Avenue
Government Cable office located at 218 6th Ave. was constructed
in 1905 and was part of the Alaska Military cable and Telegraph
system (WAMCATS.) With the help of the Infantry units the
signal corps of the US Army constructed a telegraph system,
which connected most of Alaska’s major town with the
outside world. Valdez received telegraph service first. In
the summer of 1905, a submarine cable was laid between Valdez
and Seward, which connected the new town with Seattle and
the rest of the United States.
This communication service was immediately put to use by
Frank Ballaine and the local newspaper, The Seward Daily Gateway.
Beginning in August of 1905, the daily Seward newspaper began
to feature next day news accounts from the continental United
States. Prior to this cable connection news arrived by mail
brought by steamer.
Communication initiated August 7, 1905. The first message
transmitted over the cable after it was connected was to A.C.
Frost, President of Alaska Central Railway, who was in Chicago:
“This first message transmitted over Alaska Cable connects
Seward from this day to the great city of Chicago.”
The cable office was manned by US Army personnel. The front
room was open
the public so people could pick up or send messages. The central
part of the ground floor was the operator’s station.
Station workers lived on the upper floor.
Originally, the cable office had wood siding, which was painted
cream color. The trim was pink. Eventually the building received
a coat of stucco, which is probably why it is still as well
preserved as it is.
The telegraph service continued uninterrupted until 1934
when an earthquake severed the cable and it was not repaired.
By this time radio communication had been put in place and
the US Navy’s radio station located near the airport
filled the void caused by the severed cable. The cable office
itself remained government property until 1961 when it was
sold. It has been used as a private residence and rented apartments