telegraphing

Lowering the stacks to cross a bridge is called telegraphing because the captain of the steamer Telegraph came up with the idea of hinging the stacks to clear low bridges (like the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.) After the bridge collapsed during a storm in 1852, the captain of the Pennsylvania made a great show of dropping his stacks as he went by the ruins. He was soundly clobbered with all the rotten vegetables the populace of Wheeling could pitch at him. That was the height of the Wheeling-Pittsburgh rivalry, during which the bathrooms in Pittsburgh were briefly called "wheelings" (thanks to Becky Morgan for that description on the steamboats.org message board).



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