History of the All America Cables Company

Including the Central and South American Telegraph Company and the Mexican Telegraph Company

In 1867 James A. Scrymser's International Ocean Telegraph Company laid the first line from Florida to Cuba, 235 miles. In 1878 Scrymser incorporated the Mexican Cable Company, and the following year the Central and South American Cable Company, the predecessors of All America Cables, Inc. The names were changed shortly afterwards to the Mexican Telegraph Company and the Central and South American Telegraph Company, and the cable routes were expanded over the years to link the US to all of South America

William George Herbert Cross worked for the Eastern Telegraph Company, stationed in Carcavellos, Portugal from 1878 until 1882.  After 1882 he began working for the Central and South American Telegraph Company and was assigned to the station at San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

This company was to lay the cable from Mexico to Peru. The route was: Tehuantepec, Mexico - La Libertad, El Salvador - San Juan de Sur, Nicaragua - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Balboa, Panama - Buenaventura, Colombia - Santa Elena, Ecuador - Payta, Peru. A connection was made to the Mexican Telegraph Company system via a land line across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Coatzacoalcos and then a cable to Veracruz. The whole system opened for service in 1882.

Original System Map

1928 System Map

(Click maps for a larger image)


In 1890 an extension to the system took place with the laying of a cable Chorillos - Iquique - Valparaiso. The same company manufactured and laid the cable using CS Silvertown. In the same year the company purchased a land line giving them connections to Santiago, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

In 1891 the company took delivery of CS Relay and used it to lay cables from Tehuantepec to San Jose, Guatemala and San Jose to La Libertad. Two years after this CS Silvertown duplicated the cable from Tehuantepec to Chorillos this time with landings at San Juan and Santa Elena only.

In 1906 Siemens Bros were awarded a contract to manufacture and lay a cable from Valparaiso to Chorillos with a landing at Iqique with CS Faraday(1) carrying out the laying. The following year Telcon manufactured and laid a cable from New York to Cuba and then Panama using CS Colonia. This cable was duplicated in 1915 with the same company and cable ship carrying out the work. CS Stephan laid a cable manufactured by Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke between Balboa, Panama and Santa Elena, Ecuador in 1913. This was the final cable laid under this name; in 1920 the company changed its name to All America Cables.

In 1885, William resigned and returned to England.  In 1887, he joined the Mexican Telegraph Company and was assigned at the station in Tampico, Mexico.  He was later transferred to Veracruz, Mexico.

The Mexican Telegraph Company was formed with the intention of linking the USA and Mexico by submarine cable. Up until this time links between the two countries were by land line.

The India Rubber, Gutta Percha and Telegraph Works Company were contracted to lay the 738 nm of cable between Galveston, Texas and Vera Cruz, Mexico, with a landing at Tampico, the work being carried out in 1881 using CS Dacia and CS International. A second cable was laid in 1882 this time from Galveston to Coatzacoalcos and then to Veracruz. The India Rubber Co manufactured the cable and used CS Dacia to lay it. The Coatzacoalcos to Veracruz cable belonged to the Central and South American Telegraph Company, Scrymser's second company.

Two further cables were laid, in 1895 and 1905, both from Galveston to Coatzacoalcos. Siemens Brothers manufactured both cables and used CS Faraday (1) to lay them.

In 1893 William  was transferred back to the Central and South American Telegraph Company and was assigned again to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

All America Cables was formed in February 1920 when it took over the assets of the Central and South American Telegraph Company.  In 1938 All America Cables merged with the Commercial Cable Company and Mackay Radio & Telegraph to form the American Radio and Cable Corporation of which ITT is the major shareholder.

In 1927 Western Union purchased the Mexican Telegraph Company. The assets of the company were later taken over by the Mexican government and the cables were abandoned.


The Fiftieth Anniversary Medallion

50th anniversary medallion,
designed by Julio Kilenyi
and produced by
Whitehead and Hoag.
212 grams, 83mm diameter.

On Tuesday, May 8 [1928], President Merrill called to his office all members of the New York staff and presented each individual with a medallion, commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of All America Cables, Inc. He shook hands with each person and thanked every man and woman for the faithful service he or she had performed for All America Cables. Medallions for the employees outside of New York are being sent to the various stations and should be in the hands of all within another month.

The medallion is a singularly beautiful thing and everybody was impressed by its attractiveness. The design was executed by Mr. Julio Kilenyi, an artist and sculptor of international fame. Mr. Kilenyi first studied at the Royal Fine Arts School in Budapest and continued his studies in Germany and in France.

After considerable work in Europe, he went to South America and spent several years in Buenos Aires where he established an enviable reputation as a portrait sculptor. He came to the United States about ten years ago.

In medallic art some of his most celebrated examples have been the portraits of Woodrow Wilson, General Pershing, Thomas A. Edison, Elbert H. Gary, Mark Twain, Charles W. Elliott, and Lord Northcliffe. He designed the President Coolidge Inauguration Medal also. In addition to these he has made medallic portraits of many other dignitaries of the Church and of many who are celebrated in the Commercial world.

Among the models which Mr. Kilenyi has executed and from which medals have been struck are those for the Official Lindbergh medal, the Byrd North Pole medal, the Curtis N-C 4 Atlantic Flight medal, the Battle of Bunker Hill medallion, the Battle of Lexington medallion, the Plymouth Tercentenary medal, and the Republic of Peru Centenary medal.


Special thanks to Mr. Bill Burns who provided all the images and text used on this page.  More information can be found at his website http://www.atlantic-cable.com



Created by Edgar H. Cross