Telephone service is Appelo legacy
February 28, 2019
Submitted by Karen Bertroch, Grays River
From the Willapa Pilot newspaper, October 19, 1927
“Western Wahkiakum People are Mighty Proud of Their Own Interlocking Telephone System”
Over in the Grays Bay district of western Wahkiakum county, the residents and businessmen and ranchers of those fertile valleys are proud of the many civic projects they have put over in the past few years. But one of their greatest achievements, which carries a strong trace of real community patriotism, cooperation and cohesiveness, is the organization of the Western Wahkiakum County Telephone Co., now serving approximately 2,000 persons.
Built by the people themselves from that section of the county, they now have a modern and up-to-date telephone system extending from Deep River to Skamokawa. With a local exchange at Grays River and ample switching connections at Deep River, this new system links up all of the western part of Wahkiakum county and is serving these telephone systems: Deep River Logging Co. line; Upper Grays River and Lower Grays River Farmers’ line, with through switching connections at Hoikka’s Rosburg line; with Eden Farmers’ line, which extends to Helge Saari’s farm close to Harrington Point, a distance of about two miles from Altoona.
These various lines have a total of about 200 subscribers. The board of trustees of this new telephone organization, with the cooperation of Mr. Pavy, district manager of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co., of Kelso, is working out plans to extend the service to all residents of Altoona, Dahlia, Pillar Rock and Brookfield. As soon as details can be worked out with the various communities to be served, work will begin and be pushed to early completion. The Western Wahkiakum Telephone Company is incorporated under the laws of the State of Washington with a capital of $5,000. This corporation has secured the state franchise for the line along the Ocean Beach Highway; also a county franchise on all county roads within the district covered by the telephone system. Officers were elected for the ensuing year: C. Arthur Appelo, president; Gustaf A. Svenson, vice-president; RE Sorenson, secretary; OE Keranen, treasurer; PA Satterlund, Oscar Larson, HA Harrison, William Helde and Edward W. Habakangas, board of trustees.
One often hears and it is usually true, that where there are many hands in the conduct of a business, it soon declines. Not so with the Western Wahkiakum Telephone Co. This good little organization has already, through conservative management and under the direction of good business heads, been able to effect a 25 percent reduction in toll rates and has also been able to make a 10 percent reduction on monthly rental. Western Wahkiakum county people can send in a call to South Bend or Raymond over the line and often use it.
Residents of Grays Bay are feeling a good deal of pride in their accomplishments and as a result of the organization of an up-to-date telephone system, are enjoying a 24 hour continuous service with the outside world. It seems a revelation to some of those who have been shut-in and isolated for more than a quarter of a century.
The night service is maintained through the courtesy of Mrs. Tadlock, the operator, and Mr. and Mrs. George Badger of Grays River. This special emergency service is a wonderful asset to these communities especially in case of sudden illness or accident, where first-aid can be administered after consulting a physician. The new system was born out of the necessity of this emergency service
[Editor's note: CA Appelo was Carlton Appelo’s father. Carlton passed away on Feb. 12 of this year. For most of his life, Carlton continued the leadership of his father at the Western Wahkiakum Telephone Co., which is still serving western Wahkiakum county and the Naselle area.]