Masks are required as the campus is at red status.

Early Telephone Company in Arkansas

Telephones are big business in the U.S.  In a 2011 article, the Washington Post presented evidence to show that the number of cellphones in this country exceeded the nation’s population. Keep in mind that the Washington Post article did not include landlines.  As of 2017, a survey showed that 39% of U.S. households had cellphones and a landline.  So, the total number of telephones significantly exceeds the U.S. population.

There is no question that telephones are big business in the U.S. However, it hasn’t always been that way.  Some telephone companies started as small family owned companies.  Such is the case with the Mountain Home Telephone Company of Mountain Home, Arkansas.

One of the three photos below shows the owner of the company, Henry Turnbull Sr., standing on the ground, and his son, Henry Turnbull, Jr., on top of a telephone pole. Note the number of wires attached to the telephone pole.  In those days (1920) there were no wireless telephones, just landlines.

Included with the photograph described in the above paragraph, there are two photographs of Mrs. Henry Turnbull, wife of the owner, who was also the switchboard operator, and her dog, Central.  Central is wearing a headset in one photograph and Mrs. Turnbull is holding the receiver up to Central’s ear in another photograph. All photographs are circa 1920.

I thought everyone could use a little light-hearted Arkansas history today.

PHOTOGRAPHS Courtesy of the UCA Archives and Keller-Butcher Collection.