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Roseville Telephone Museum - Roseville, California


Roseville Telephone Museum in Roseville, CaliforniaIf you don't know a candlestick, a crank or a rotary dial, you are among the ranks of phone users who need to chill and learn from whence the modern cell phone originated. One of the finest telephone museums in the United States and perhaps the world will spell this out for you, much as people used to spell out a phone exchange when dialing a number.


Located in a gem of a city not far from the California State Capitol where power deals are brokered on phones much smaller than your luncheon sandwich, Roseville Telephone Museum features big phones, trendy phones in fashion colors and models that look like every cartoon character. The genesis of phones began with a big box wall unit made of solid oak. The convenient candlestick phone was a model made of heavy metal that would not slide or fall off the table easily. It allowed people to sit while talking to friends, family and neighbors.  As phones progressed to shiny black models with hand sets containing both the speaker to talk into and a separate speaker for listening in one molded piece held conveniently in one hand, you could even walk around the kitchen or lie on a bed while talking. By the mid-1900's, nearly everyone had some sort of phone service, even it if it was a party line shared by six or seven residences. For an in depth look at the early phones and the progression of telecommunications, Roseville Telephone Museum provides one of the best documented histories you'll find.


Containing 4,500 square feet of exhibit space with four galleries that include nearly every phone, switchboard and telecommunication device imaginable, the museum has gathered a collection that includes the original telephones designed by Alexander Graham Bell, circa 1876, switchboards, colorful antique line insulators and rare telephone booths. There are hands-on exhibits kids love, allowing them to make a call on the magneto switchboard actually used by Roseville Telephone in 1914.


Since the phone museum opened in 1994, it has become one of the best sources for telecommunications information and education. Thousands of school children file through the museum annually, as well as tourists and visitors from around the world who enjoy seeing treasures that jog memories. In addition to the visual displays, there are tidbits of information a tour guide will tell you. For instance, did you know that Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell all rights to the telephone patent to the Western Union Telegraph Company for $100,000 in 1876? Western Union's president, William Orton turned him down saying, "This electrical toy has far too many shortcomings to ever be considered a practical means of communication."


Roseville Telephone Museum examines the inventor, his fabulous phone, the early phone technologies such as the switchboard and the development of telephones and phone service over a 100+ year span.  Not only is the collection comprehensive, the exhibit items are pristine.  Thanks to Roseville's very own telephone company that's served its community since 1914, the history of the telephone is preserved for generations who use a small, hand-held device with a view screen for playing video games, listening to music, taking photos and on occasion, conversing with someone across the room or far away.


Founded and supported by Roseville phone company, Sure West, the beautiful brick facility is located on 106 Vernon Street, Roseville, California 95678. Tours are provided by arrangement.  Call: (916) 786-1621.


For information on planning your trip to this must-see destination, Roseville, California, contact Placer Valley Tourism, 300 Harding Blvd., Suite #109, Roseville, CA  95747. Phone: (916) 773-5400.



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