On Wednesday, April 12, 2023 Washington County Historical Society shared an historical artifact with Vernon Historical Society. It took eight men, a big trailer, industrial straps, a heavy duty truck, removing doors, and several hours of straining, twisting and turning to get the artifact moved. It was “all hands on deck” with museum workers, County and State personnel, and a work crew.
What was it? A 4’x8’ double testing telephone switchboard from Southern Bell – lots of steel and color-coded wires, a bit of marble, wood panels and more. Although it wasn’t “giant”, it was extremely heavy.
For the past twelve years the testing switchboard has stood, side by side, with an actual operators’ switchboard at Washington County Historical Society’s museum. Five years ago the two were moved from storage in the old Ice Plant to the current museum at 685 7th Street. The switchboards were last used around 1977 and are monuments to the past before computers and digital networks.
Vernon Director Lynda Waller was just as excited to add the switchboard to their collection as Washington County Director Dorothy Odom was to share it. Odom stated, “It’s a wonderful piece of history! However, having two took up a lot of valuable floor space. We are looking forward to creating a new research area where it once stood. Now that we’ve completed the filing of the old Blackburn Funeral Home records, it is perfect timing!”
In addition to the switchboard, a round-about phone director, several pieces of metering equipment, photographs and mementos of the Southern Belles were be shared with Vernon in the future.
Washington County Historical Society is located at 685 7th Street in Chipley and is open every Friday from 9AM until 1PM. The Vernon History Museum is located at 2808 Yellow Jacket Drive (the old high school) in Vernon and is open every Wednesday from 10AM until 2PM . Drop by for a visit – you will be amazed at the treasures both museums hold.