Ear: Astorian

From the Friday, Sept. 12, 1884, edition of The Daily Morning Astorian:

J. O. Spencer is in the city from Clifton and was busy shaking hands with his numerous friends last evening.

Note: Mr. Spencer wrote to the newspaper about goings on in Clifton. Here's his response to the news that Capt. John B. Morrison was looking for his son, believed drowned in a horrific storm in May 1880, during which several fishermen were lost:

"Donald Morrison was here from the 17th to the 20th of May and said he was pulling a boat in Astoria at the time of the storm. His partner was drowned, and he was saved by the (steamer) Rip Van Winkle.

"He left here on the 20th for Knappa, Oregon, expecting to find work in a logging camp. He was satisfied with his fishing experience and didn't wish to continue. Have not heard of him since. He may be the one Capt. Morrison … is inquiring about; if so, he is alive and apparently in good health." ("River's End," Liisa Penner)

Cyrus W. Field (pictured), the man who crossed the Atlantic 187 times and finally succeeded in making the Atlantic (telegraph) cable a success, is visiting the North Pacific Coast. 

Note: Mr. Field (1819-1892), a financier and one of the founders of the American Telegraph Co., first considered a trans-Atlantic cable in 1854. The initial attempt failed. An 1857 try went south when the cable split after 335 miles had been laid.

A cable laid in 1858 parted, but was spliced, and they called it good. Which it was — long enough for Queen Victoria to telegraph congratulations to President Buchanon, anyway. But it stopped working shortly thereafter.

The Civil War interrupted the project, but Field was back at it in 1865, laying a bigger cable this time. Six hundred miles off Newfoundland, it split, and couldn't be saved. However, in 1866, he pulled it off; a cable finally connected the two continents, and better yet, it worked. (bit.ly/CyField)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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