The French Cable Station is a historic station on the southeast corner of Cove Rd. and MA 28 in Orleans, Massachusetts. It was built in 1891 by the French Cable Company, which was installing numerous cables in Cape Cod throughout the late-19th century. By 1898 the station was the terminus of a 3,200-mile long trans-Atlantic telegraph cable called "Le Direct." When France surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940, it was taken over by the federal government for security reasons, but wasn't returned to the company until 1952. The company resumed operations until 1959. After being purchased by 10 prominent Orleans citizens in 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places the same year.
Did you know?
In 1927, the message that Charles Lindbergh had landed in Paris came through this station from Paris. It was then sent to the rest of the United States.
The museum features four rooms.
The superintendent’s office is essentially as it was through the years. Look around and you will see the walls are covered with a few photos and news articles of major events in the history of the station. Some of these were given to the museum by the Smithsonian Institute. By the superintendents desk is an early copy machine (non photographic). Every letter written was copied before being sent.
The testing room contains equipment that was used to determine the location of a fault or break in the cable. Some of the equipment is still operational and can be demonstrated. Also in this room is one of the most unique instruments in the world. It is the Heurtley Magnifier used to amplify the weak signal coming from France. It was developed before there were vacuum tubes. There are only three in existence in the world today.
The repair room held the equipment used to repair the cable and equipment. In this room are found samples of the early submarine telegraph cable and cables that have been under the sea for decades. On the walls are photos of a repair operation at sea. In a sealed glass cabinet in the hall are many interesting items including an original Tiffany and Co. Wooden box containing a sample of the 1858 cable. Cyrus Field had sold the cable to Tiffany immediately after the success of the first transatlantic cable in 1858.
The operations room was the heart of the cable station. This was where the messages from France were received, recorded, and re-transmitted to rest of the country. Most of the equipment still functions and can be demonstrated.
Planning a Visit (from their website - please plan accordingly)
Museum is open starting Friday, June 3rd with some restrictions. The governor has removed all restrictions, but we will have visitors from around the world so we will have extra precautions.
All museum personnel will have been vaccinated and will wear a mask.
We ask that visitors also wear a mask.
We request that visitors will have been vaccinated.
Maximum group size is five (5), all must be from the same household or family.
No pets or infants allowed.
Sanitizers will be available.
Number of people in museum will be restricted. Visitors may be asked to wait for entry.