HUNTINGTON - Telephone service first came to Huntington in 1883 when two local businessmen, George C. Pope and H.C. Everett, strung a phone line between Guyandotte and downtown Huntington. The two men had a contract with Southern Bell Telephone Co. to operate their line until such time as the company decided to offer service in Huntington.
In 1884 Southern Bell came to town but was able to sign up only a handful of subscribers and so called it quits. In 1891 it came back for another try and this time was successful.
The city got a second telephone company in 1895 when the locally owned Huntington Mutual Telephone Co. was established. In the early years of the telephone, it wasn't unusual for a town to have more than one phone company. The two rival local companies operated side by side until 1910, when Southern Bell purchased Huntington Mutual.
In 1917, Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone was incorporated as a unit of the Bell System, operated by giant American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T). C&P then took over Southern Bell's operations in West Virginia.
In 1925, C&P built a building in the 1100 block of 6th Avenue in Huntington to house its offices and equipment. Much altered and expanded over the years, the building remains in use.
For nearly 70 years, from 1917 until 1984, C&P was a familiar part of the daily fabric of life in West Virginia. In 1984, the C&P name disappeared when it became part of Bell Atlantic, one of seven new regional companies formed after the courts ordered the breakup of AT&T. In 2000, Bell Atlantic merged with GTE to form Verizon, and in 2009 Verizon sold its land-line telephone business to Frontier Communications.
Do you enjoy the "Lost Huntington" series?
"Lost Huntington: Volume 1" is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city's lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.
Books are $29.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. To order, visit media.herald-dispatch.com/ecom/ or call 304-526-2720.