An Industry Pioneer: The History of Lackawaxen Telecommunications
Lackawaxen Telecommunications Services
marks its birth in 1905, when it was first organized under the name
of the Hawley and Lackawaxen Telephone Company. Even before the
turn of the century, area residents had begun to organize in response
to the need they saw in the community for a communications system.
Consequently, some of the leaders and original investors in the
young phone company were storeowners, woodsmen, farmers, and members
of the Forest Lake Club. One of these original backers was Andreas
Solversen, of Rowland, grandfather and great grandfather, respectively,
of Richard Solversen, Sr. and Jr., both of whom played instrumental
roles in the creation of this rural communications provider.
Originally, the company had two exchanges; one in
a house in Bohemia, and the other in the Lackawaxen area. Eventually,
the Bohemia exchange was discontinued, and the final location of
the other original exchange was on the riverbank, just before the
approach to the Lackawaxen Bridge.
In 1953-54, E.Y. Stroud, of Dingmans Ferry,
PA, acquired controlling shares in the company. Under his leadership,
Lackawaxen Telephone restructured its finances through its participation
in the new federal telephone loan program made possible by the Rural
Electrification Administration (REA) in Washington, D.C. This expansion
enabled the company to complete its cutover from the old magneto
hand-crank system to modern dial tone in January 1957.
During the 1955 flood, the operator on duty in Lackawaxen
was forced to leave her post as the dangerous floodwaters approached.
Her decision to flee proved a wise one, as the flood washed away
the entire exchange. By working with the Bell company nearby, Richard
Solversen, Sr. secured an old magneto switchboard that he set up
in the barn of G.W. Rowland (the site of the Rowland General Store).
When he and others realized that Rowland represented the most central
location in the companys territory, they decided to place
the new exchange in the location that serves to this day. Following
the death of her husband, Mrs. Mildred Stroud took over as LTC president.
In overseeing the companys operations, she depended on the
counsel and assistance of the Solversen family.
In 1972, Hale S. Coughlin, Jr., of Fayetteville,
NY, purchased the Stroud familys shares and became majority
shareholder. Mr. Coughlin worked diligently to expand LTCs
operations and to set the groundwork for the companys status
today. From the old magneto system that served less than 100 subscribers
in the off-season, Lackawaxen now serves close to 4,000 customers.
Since the time Mr. Coughlin took over, the company has installed
six remote offices in Lackawaxen, Greeley, Masthope, Fawn
Lake, Tink Wig, and Woodloch. In addition, Mr. Coughlin led the
effort in making Lackawaxens a partner in Cellular Plus.
Following Mr. Coughlins passing in 1994, his
family has made great efforts to maintain his vision and commitment
to provide the local community with modern, high-quality communications
services. In 1995, LTC turned up a new billing system, enabling
our local office to print and mail customer bills, helping to make
the process more accurate. LTC installed 30 miles of fiber-optic
cable throughout the exchange in 1995, and a year later, converted
to new Nortel switching equipment that allowed us to offer such
high-tech services as Caller ID, Voice Mail, Repeat Dial, Return
Call, and others.
In December 1996, LTC established a long-distance
subsidiary, Lackawaxen Long Distance, to provide customers competitive
long-distance rates coupled with the benefit and convenience of
a provider located here in the community. In February 1997, the
company moved into our new headquarters in Rowland, demonstrating
anew our commitment and support of the local communities we serve.
In September 1997, our service area became part of
the Internet society, when LTC began to offer local, dial-up access
to the Internet. And just last winter, we helped Wayne and Pike
counties bridge the Digital Divide when we rolled out our new high-speed
Predator DSL (digital subscriber line) service.
They say, "past is prologue." In our case,
that certainly rings true. For, without the history of LTC, one
could scarcely appreciate the launching of Lackawaxen Telecommunications
Services. Weve changed part of our name to reflect the tremendous
changes affecting the industry in which we work and the services
we provide. No, this is certainly not your fathers telephone
company. With Internet access, Predator DSL, long-distance, and
more to come, we are truly a full-service telecommunications provider.
Still, we have not changed the most important part
of our name, Lackawaxen. And thats how it should be,
because no matter how sophisticated the service or eye-popping the
technology, the important thing for us is that were here in
the community, offering these products and services to you, our
friends and neighbors
our partners in the community. And
thats how it will stay!
Yes, Lackawaxen Telecommunications Services has grown
pretty dramatically since 1905. And, with the enactment of new laws
and the regulatory activity theyve generated at both the federal
and state levels, Lackawaxen Telecommunications and other rural
independent telephone companies have embarked on the intense journey
from monopoly structure to the anything-goes competitive environment.
It promises to be anything but an easy trip. Yet, the company remains
as firmly dedicated to serving the customer as it was the day those
turn-of-the-century Pennsylvania pioneers first set out to establish
a communications system here in our community.
back to top