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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Lineman Dick Bernier rides a cable car high above the Quinebaug River in Putnam to lash a cable after the Flood of August 19, 1955.

Southern New England Telephone's
Response to Connecticut's Natural Disasters
Connecticut has had its share of devastating natural disasters. The Blizzard of 1888, the Hurricane of 1938, and the Floods of 1955 are some of the events by which many long-time residents date all other happenings. These tragedies wreaked death swiftly and cruelly on many residents, with unimaginable damage to property. Roads were impassable, railroad lines were destroyed, homes and businesses were ruined, and electricity was knocked out. Many conveniences--and necessities--that we take for granted were unavailable for days following these dreadful events.

Established in 1878, the Southern New England Telephone Company responded to each disaster in the only way it knew how, by acting swiftly and efficiently to restore telephone service to all of its customers. These catastrophes hit SNET as hard as other businesses in the state, yet it had to reach every corner of Connecticut to fulfill its mission. The men and women of the company put aside personal losses and difficulties and persevered throughout the tragedies. Countless managers, engineers, lineworkers, and operators braved all kinds of dangerous conditions to secure buildings, repair lines, or work the switchboard. SNET's slogan, "We Go Beyond the Call," truly was put to its test when times were tough.

In this exhibit, captivating photographs recall the disasters that have befallen Connecticut--destroyed homes, ruined roads and railroad lines, devastated towns and cities--and demonstrate the response of those who restored service to thousands of telephone subscribers. The photographic record is complemented by historical documents and published sources from the SNET Historical Collection, which is held by Archives & Special Collections, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Stephen Showers & Laura Smith
Dodd Research Center Gallery

For more about SNET's Historical Collection, go to this more detailed exhibition page. Also available, Southern New England Telephone Company: The First Fifty Years 1878-1928, an earlier electronic exhibition sponsored by the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.