Location: Vale, Oregon
Started: 1907
Sold to/Ended: Purchased by Rocky Mountain Bell Telephone Co., 1911

Eventually, Valley Telephone was merged with the Malheur Telephone Company, which Rocky Mountain Bell had purchased in 1899. Both companies were tucked into the far southeastern corner of Oregon with hundreds of miles of desert separating them from their Oregon neighbors. The citizens in both areas were really more closely associated with their Idaho neighbors a few miles east.

When Rocky Mountain Bell became part of Mountain States, Mountain States became the owner of the Malheur company. As far as long distance service was concerned, Malheur, Oregon, became part of the Mountain States network.

Then the Oregon Public Utilities Commission stepped into the picture. The Commission decided it could tax Malheur based on all of Mountain Bell’s operations in eight other states. Thus, Malheur Bell became a fully owned subsidiary of Mountain States--the smallest of the Bells.

This brought about some interesting business practices. Malheur had its own construction and installation crews -- usually they were the same guys. The commercial manager was the president of the company, the board of directors consisted of district level people from Idaho and a division level from corporate staff in Denver. All dividends were paid to the owner, Mountain States.

If a major construction job was on tap for Malheur and a line crew and heavy construction trucks were needed, the trucks were “leased” from Mountain States in Idaho and the line crew took a leave of absence from Mountain States in Idaho to be “hired” by Malheur in Oregon. The paperwork was always in order. Of course, Malheur Bell always paid the taxes it owed to the state of Oregon.

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PICTURED: (above, beginning of article) A Valley Telephone Company stock certificate (THG file photo).