Siskiyou Telephone has been a true pioneer in the history of Western Siskiyou County. The Company was incorporated on October 10, 1896, in Fort Jones with many of the original stockholders being leading businessmen who wanted to bring modern telephone service to the area.
With A.B. Carlock as President, the Board of Directors instructed the Company to purchase an existing line from Yreka to Callahan via Fort Jones, Greenview and Etna. The line was purchased from William Baptist for the sum of $4,000.00.
On October 21, 1896 a bid from William Baptist was accepted to construct a telephone line from Etna to Sawyers Bar for a sum of $1,225.00. In October of 1897, a line was completed from Sawyers Bar to the Forks of Salmon and the Gilta Mine.
The Gilta Mine was owned by the Dannenbrink Brothers, August and Henry, who were among the original stockholders of the Corporation. It was their desire to have telephone service at Gilta that got them into the telephone business. In September of 1904, August Dannenbrink was appointed President. As the business grew, it became necessary for August to move to Etna and devote full time to managing the Company in 1911. As time went on, the Company’s service area grew to include Plowmans Valley and the Klamath River area as far down river as Orleans.
August served as President until his death in 1941 after which his son H.A. Dannenbrink, took over as President and served until 1965. Upon his passing away in 1965, Eleanor Hendricks, daughter of August Dannenbrink, was appointed President and remained President until 1987 when she stepped down to Vice President and her son James Hendricks became President. Eleanor Hendricks worked continuously for the Company from 1935 until her death in November of 2007.
In the late 1950’s, the Company found that it faced very serious problems with its 2,256 square mile service area, and the obsolescence of its facilities. The 1955 flood dealt a deathly blow to its aging plant. Something had to be done, but where would a small independent telephone company raise the amount of money that would be required to modernize its entire facility?
The Rural Utilities Service approved a loan in 1957 that would provide modern telephone service to the area. With the cutover to dial service in 1960, Siskiyou Telephone was again providing the latest in telecommunications service to 1, 200 of our customers. This service included one of the most modern microwave systems in Northern California.
In 1965, the Company installed direct distance dialing. That same year the microwave system was extended into Somes Bar to replace lines lost in the 1964 flood. Four years later a program of installing buried cable was initiated.
In 1969 we added our Klamath River office, thereby cutting our Hamburg Exchange in half. This improved service to Klamath River customers by shortening the length of the facilities serving them.
In 1970, with our modern microwave system only 10 years old, we found ourselves faced with the problem of having an obsolete system. We could no longer obtain spare parts and would not be able to license the equipment after 1976 due to stringent F.C.C. rules. We proceeded to engineer and install the most modern concept in microwave systems, using all solid state equipment with full redundancy and passive reflectors. This system was so fresh off the drawing boards that we did the Field Trial Test for the Rural Utilities Service so that it could be approved for use in other rural telephone systems throughout the nation.
The Company cut over our Somes Bar Exchange in 1974. This provided direct distance dial service to some customers who had never had a telephone before.
During the 1970’s, Siskiyou Telephone continued to upgrade its facilities and grew to 30 employees. In 1979, we installed our first in-house main frame computer, and our staff had increased to 42 employees. In 1974 we upgraded our Fort Jones and Etna electromechanical offices to digital offices with the Fort Jones office equipped with operator positions.
In 1987 we upgraded 4 more electromechanical offices to digital offices and by this time we had added 5 remote offices and had expanded and updated our outside plant and microwave. In 1989 we turned up our 7th office to digital and started preparation to go all single party.
In 1990 we upgraded our digital offices and were the first small California telephone company to provide equal access to our customers. We provided radio telephone service to Cecilville and changed to a more advanced main frame computer and digitized our outside plant record maps giving us excellent quality computerized mapping.
At the end of 1990 Siskiyou Telephone served 3,500 customers over a 2,256 square mile area with 163 route miles of microwave, seven central offices and 45 employees.
On January 31, 1991, due to AT&T’s cancellation of the operators contract, Siskiyou Telephone could no longer support the operator service. This caused the termination of 11 operators. This also forced the discontinuance of service to our remaining magneto customers and reduced Siskiyou Telephone’s staff to 34.
In 1992, Siskiyou Telephone built an alternate microwave route through Trinity County to Redding to serve all of Siskiyou County, adding 90 route miles of microwave with a total of 949 route miles of line served.
In 1995 we had 37 employees and 4,200 customers. Several major fiber optic projects were being installed in preparation for higher speed data services. Upgrades to the switching offices were installed for calling number delivery and other forthcoming features.
After six additions to our main office building in Fort Jones, we outgrew our ability to expand on that site. We constructed a new building in Etna and moved our headquarters staff to 30 Telco Way in November of 1997. We left our digital office and microwave in place at Fort Jones and rented the business offices at that location. We purchased the Cal-Trans Maintenance yard just south of Etna for our warehouse and vehicle site.
At the turn of the century, we offered ISDN to most of our customers. A year later, DSL was introduced to support data speeds that are being demanded by customers. In 2001, Siskiyou Telephone had 39 employees and served 5,098 telephone lines, along with providing internet service. In remembrance of the September 11th tragedy, Siskiyou Telephone installed a 25-foot flag pole to proudly display the American Flag.
Jim Lowers became President in April of 2003. Siskiyou Telephone constructed a high-capacity fiber optic toll route between our Fort Jones equal access tandem switch and SBC offices in Yreka and Redding.
The internet route to the network backbone has been greatly expanded. In 2006 we will replace all long-distance microwave equipment. We also began a fifteen year project to rebuild the plant in preparation to provide “fiber-to-the-home” throughout our entire serving territory.
In 2007 we replaced the Hamburg, Oak Knoll, Sawyers Bar and Somes Bar telephone switches. The Happy Camp, Etna and Fort Jones telephone switches were replaced in 2008. DSL speeds were dramatically increased throughout most of the serving area.
Construction in 2009 wrapped up a three year project of placing main line and drop conduit in the town of Fort Jones. Fiber optic cable replaced outdated cable in Sawyer's Bar and Forks of Salmon. The Nordheimer Flat line extension grant project was completed in October. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) made an appearance for the ground-breaking ceremony, as the first telephone call was placed. In addition to Sawyer's Bar - other areas, such as Meamber Creek, Fisher Creek, Dutch Creek, Crapo Creek and China Gulch were upgraded to provide broadband access to area residents. In most areas, broadband speeds were increased up to 3 Mbps. A new microwave link was established between Yreka and Dunsmuir to provide a secondary route for handling call traffic.