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A One-of-a-Kind Museum Lost in California’s Wildfires

Back in 1876 an old boy named Bell invented a contraption that we know so well.* The telephone has evolved and changed so much that you might want to take your children to a museum to show them what kind of calls you once made. Alas, we have one less opportunity to do so. The JKL Museum of Telephony near San Andreas, California, featured an extensive collection of telephones from every era since the device’s invention.

The museum’s collection includes telephones and related equipment from all over the world, from as early as the 1880’s to present day. Among the many goals of the museum is to have working telephones and demonstrations from all eras, and to interconnect working telephones by way of the museum’s extensive “central office” switching system.

The museum also houses an extensive library of telephony publications, including 100 year old texts, catalogs, brochures, and telephone company publications. The library is unequaled by any U.S. museum dedicated to telephony and most likely in the world. The museum has grown by acquiring private collections, donations of library materials, and purchases from private and public sources. The museum’s non-profit status has encouraged very generous donations to the museum which has added immensely to the size and scope of the collection.

Sadly, the museum burned to the ground in the Butte fire. But you can still see photographs and exhibits at the museum’s website. The museum owners hope to rebuild somehow.  -via Smithsonian

* With apologies to Reba MacEntire.

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