The Cle-Elum Telephone Museum Connects You to History

There is a very good chance that you are currently reading this article on an iPhone or similar smart phone.  From that standpoint, it’s hard to believe how much things have changed since the first phone was patented in 1876.  It has been 135 years since that patent, by Alexander Graham Bell, but the history of the phone is frozen in time at the Cle Elum Telephone Museum.

Inside the museum (located at 221 East First Street in Cle Elum) you’ll see the evolution of telecommunications told through generations of phones and back-end switchboards ranging from 1901 to 1970.  Though it’s a fairly small space, it is the oldest complete telephone Museum West of the Mississippi.  This is particularly relevant because the museum is in the space that was once the Cle Elum Manual Exchange – the home of the last operating telephone switchboard West of the Mississippi – which connected its last call on September 18, 1966.

In addition to the telephone displays, the museum also features a collection of coal mining artifacts and displays from Cle Elum’s historical bank.  The museum is operated by the Northern Kittitas County Historical Society.  While there is no cost to visit; donations are appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *