Sometime in the 1890’s telephone came to this community. Possibly because the full economic and social significance of this new instrument of communication was not realized until some years later, early records of installation, ownership and use were, and are very scarce. Apparently the first telephone line in Scranton was from Dr. Olive’s office to the livery barn.
By about 1900 some farmers began to feel the need of a telephone. Each rural line was organized as a separate company with ownership, repair and maintenance vested in the farmers who used the line. Each line company had its own officers, collected dues or fees for use of the line and took care of the line maintenance and made arrangements for switching in town. Roughly, lines went out Southeast, East, North and Southwest from Scranton.
There was a phone on each end of the line and that was it. Sometime later several other individuals in Scranton installed lines from their homes or places of business to a simple exchange located in Dr. Olive’s drugstore which was located on the corner of Main and Irving Streets.
An independent Scranton Telephone Company was organized to provide service to telephone patrons within the town of Scranton and to provide switching facilities for the rural lines. The switchboard at this time was located upstairs in the Black Building which occupied the same piece of land that the current phone office stands upon.
By 1907 the Company and switchboard had moved to the upstairs of the building which held the first switchboard. This was directly Southwest across Main Street intersection from the bank. About 1921 an effort was made to combine the Independent Telephone Company with the rural lines which came into Scranton.The result of this effort was the Consolidated Scranton Telephone Company.
By this time full-time operators were being used, a manager-maintenance man was hired and the telephone company was functioning as an effective and efficient instrument of communication. Incidentally, by October of 1923, the manager was L. S. Woodhouse and one of the operators, Mrs. Woodhouse. The first portion of the upstairs was the telephone office and switchboard and the west portion the living quarters for the Woodhouse family.
Through the years to 1996, the Telephone Company maintained its manual switchboard, increased its operators, hired a bookkeeper and provided excellent service to the community. To future readers it might be interesting to enumerate some of these services which will disappear when dialing begins:
Line calls: for a number of years it was possible for the operator to make what was called a “line call”. This rang a long ring on all the phones on a given line and then the operator announced the purpose of the call. It might be “No school today”, a new movie at the theater, a postponed Ice Cream Social, or a special sale at one of the businesses in town.
Fire Calls: the operator took a fire call, called one or more firemen with instructions and blew the fire whistle.
Misc. services: the operator always knew when the funeral started, where the Doctor was, who was out of town that day and that someone had already reported that the water was shut off or the electricity was off.
In 1966, after several years of discussions by the Telephone Company Board of Directors and some public request, serious thought was given to reorganizing the Company, borrowing money and converting to dial operation. In December of 1966 the Company was reorganized into the Scranton Telephone Company and negotiations began with other telephone companies, equipment suppliers and the REA. Preliminary thought included selling out to another company which would then do the converting to dial. However, over a period of time, the Board came to the conclusion that if it were possible to borrow funds from the REA, it would be best for the community to retain ownership locally and do our own converting to dial.
Accordingly, in March of 1968, a meeting of stockholders approved borrowing monies for a period of 35 years at 2% interest from the REA. Through the spring and summer of 1968 contracts were let and work initiated on a new single party, buried cable dial system.
The projected cut-over date to the dial was May 15, 1969. For the first time in 70 years of operation the Scranton Telephone Company would have a new home of its own.
On a raw, windy Saturday, November 9, 1968, the Board of Directors gathered to dedicate the new building and insert the cornerstone. A copy of this history and the November 7, 1968 Scranton Journal were inserted behind the cornerstone for future generations to peruse. The Board of Directors was composed of the following: President-Lowell Duff, Vice President-Thomas Hunt, Secretary-John Fey, Directors-Edward Holden, Frank Kidney, Merle Eberle, Rich Christian, Delmar Morlan and Leo Lovell and Manager-Sam Fengel.
We feel we should express our appreciation for the many persons, paid and unpaid, who have helped to bring our Telephone Company to this date. These people helped in many ways; as employees or board members, as officers and simply as volunteers when help or public support was needed. Without them, there would not be a Scranton Telephone Company today.
Since the writing of this history some other important things have happened.
- We have formed and are operating a cable TV company.
- In October of 1985 a Stromberg-Carlson central office switch was put into service.
- In 1989 the telephone company along with 5 other independent companies, joined RSA 9 to provide US Cellular service to our area.
- In February of 1996, the central office switch was converted to equal access.
- In 2012 we started and have now completed installing fiber to the home.