Credit: JKL Museum
In this day of smartphones, cell towers and wearables, the American Museum of Telephony in the Mountain Ranch community of northern California preserved artifacts of a much different world of communications. But the museum, along with surrounding residences, burnt to the ground late last week during the raging Butte Fire and it's assumed that the collection is largely lost.
However, the museum's curator vows in a post on the museum website that this isn't the end:
"The American Museum of Telephony (aka JKL Museum of Telephony) was destroyed in a fire but we plan to rebuild something. We do not yet know how, where or when but the JKL Museum of Telephony (aka American Museum of Telephony) is here to stay."
The JKL name comes from museum creator/owner John K La Rue, "whose initials just happen to appear above the number 5 on most telephone dials."
The museum's collection included phones and related central office switching gear from around the world, including from as far back as the 1880s. The non-profit museum also included many telephony-related publications in its collection. The museum has acquired items over the years from private collectors and via trades.
The museum operator has received an outpouring of condolences and offers for contributions from those who visited or always wanted to check the historical repository. Among those that did make their way to the museum over the years: Alexander Graham Bell's family members.
While some might pine to touch and feel some of the older telephony gear, one blessing for museum devotees is that the JKL did create virtual exhibits that can still be viewed right now.
And if you are really hankering to visit a telephone museum in person in the near term, you might be surprised to know that the U.S. is dotted with such collections. Among them, the New Hampshire Telephone Museum and the Herbert H. Warrick, Jr., Museum of Communications in Seattle.
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