Morristown and Technology, Then and Now
There was a time, however, when communication was no faster than horses’ hooves. Today, can you imagine surviving even one day without your cell phone?
Are you lost without your cell phone? Do you have the latest model? Can you imagine surviving even one day without it?
Today, you can talk to others around the world within mere seconds. There was a time, however, when communication was no faster than horses’ hooves. Think of Samuel Morse, in 1825, painting a portrait of Lafayette in Washington not hearing of his first wife’s death in New Haven until four days later, after she was already buried. Morse, known as the father of the American telegraph is immortalized through the Morse Code and the telegraph which made long-distance communication as fast as the electricity passing though a single wire.
Perhaps you’ve played the “telephone game,” sending a message through a line of people only to find the original meaning has been completely altered. In large part, that is how history has recorded the true story of the telegraph. Important details have been left out of many history books along the way.
Did you know that Morristown, New Jersey was the actual birthplace of the telegraph? Did you know that without Alfred Vail, a Morristown native, Samuel Morse would likely have failed in his attempts at perfecting the telegraph? Did you know that it was Alfred Vail who invented most of the telegraph’s recognizable components? It was only through Vail’s persistent and inventive nature, and his family’s financing of the project, that Samuel Morse was able to achieve his great fame, and wealth.
The details of this important story in American history are accurately told at Historic Speedwell, the birthplace of the technology and its inventor. The significance of this village doesn’t end there. Speedwell has other claims to fame which can be also be discovered by visiting.
It has been one hundred years since the Titanic sank, yet it is perhaps better known now than it was then. The ill-fated voyage of that infamous steam ship failed to cross the Atlantic. Did you know, though, that the first steamship to successfully cross the Atlantic was the S.S. Savannah in 1819? Furthermore, the Savannah’s engine was built at the Speedwell Iron Works right in Morristown, New Jersey. In addition to this notable nautical connection, the Iron Works were important in the railroad industry also, perfecting the iron tires of locomotives.
With a new, interactive exhibit in the Factory Building open this year and many weekly activities and weekend special events for all ages, a trip to Historic Speedwell will take you on a memorable journey back in time to the heyday of the American Industrial Revolution! And if you have a smart phone with you, let your fingers help you do some walking too. The Morristown Walking Tour App is available, providing information on the Vail Mansion as well as other nearby sites of interest in Morristown.
To download the free App visit the iTunes store and search for Morristown Historical Walking Tour. For other users access our mobile website to take the tour, or take the tour virtually from your desktop. Use your modern technology to help navigate your way into the past and take a pleasant stroll through New Jersey’s unique history!
For more information on things to see and do in Morris County, New Jersey, including our summer and fall walking tours, visit www.morristourism.org.
- Contact Information
- Deidre Schunk
- Information Manager
- Morris County Tourism Bureau
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