The First Telegram from Washington to Baltimore

05/24/2016
By Preservation Maryland

On this day 172 years ago, the first telegram was sent from Washington, DC to Baltimore by Samuel F.B. Morse; the first words sent across the wire were, “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT.

This ominous phrase was suggested by Annie Ellsworth, the daughter of the Commissioner of Patents; these words and the historic event are recognized in Laurel on a Maryland Historical Trust historic marker placed across the highway from where the telegraph wires were laid near the B & O Railroad.

HISTORY ALONG THE HIGHWAY

The ubiquitous roadside historical markers program was introduced in Maryland to coincide with the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth in 1932, as a result, numerous markers were erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution and local committees on the roads on which Washington would have traveled. The program is administered jointly by the Maryland Historical Trust and the State Highway Administration, and is effective in drawing attention to places, people, and events that make up the fabric of Maryland’s unique history and heritage. The tradition continues, and now the Old Line State boasts over 800 historical markers – that’s 800 reasons to take a roadtrip through Maryland!

Currently, there are two books published on the Maryland historical markers program; Roadside Markers in Maryland (June 2002), by Charles S. Adams and Complete Guide to Maryland Historic Markers (1996), by Joe A. Swisher. You can also search for historical markers online at the national Historical Marker Database.

The above photo is courtesy of the Maryland Historical Trust. Our Preservation Month posts were written and prepared by Rachel Rettaliata, one of Preservation Maryland’s Waxter Interns. Rachel’s work with us focuses on communications and advocacy. She is a Fulbright Scholar, and will be attending the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland this fall. Learn more about Rachel and our intern program here: presmd.org/waxter

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Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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