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Gallery G – J.L.W. Zietlow/Dakota Central Telephone Company and Western Union Exhibit


Western UnionFor many years the telegraph service was the most popular way to communicate long distances. By 1887, the Aberdeen Western Union telegraph manager reported handling an average of 225 messages daily. The Western Union office occupied the most prominent space in this building for 53 years, closing in 1969. During this time and for many years after they closed the building was referred to as the Western Union Building.

zietlowThe telephone exhibit explores J.L.W. Zietlow, a German immigrant who arrived in Aberdeen in 1886 to seriously pursue his work with the telephone. With the formation of his Dakota Emner Telephone Company on September 3 of 1886, Zietlow has taken the first stop in building his telephone empire. His story is full of firsts but he never became nationally known for his work due to numerous legal battles. Later known as the Dakota Central Telephone Company, the company was sold in 1934 to Northwestern Bell and for many years was the second largest employer in the state.