Location: Augusta, Maine (exchange in Duluth, Minnesota)
Started: 1907
Sold to/Ended: Purchased by private interests, 1910. Control purchased by Tri-State Telephone & Telegraph Co., 1912. NWB assumed control of Tri-State, 1933.

In 1908, NWB and its major competitor, Tri-State Telephone & Telegraph, both wanted to buy the Zenith Telephone Co. Neither was successful.

About two years later, two wealthy Pittsburgh families began to loan Tri-State large sums of money. The Lockharts and the Masons also bought the Zenith Telephone Co. so NWB couldnít buy it. In 1912, the two families exchanged their $2.5 million loan to Tri-State and their $400,000 investment in the controlling interest of Zenith for $2.9 million in Tri-State common stock. In 1916, Tri-State provided dial service in St. Paul (May 28) and Minneapolis (Nov. 19). Tri-State went deeper in debt. In 1917, the two warring companies were ordered by the Minnesota Railroad and Warehouse Commission to connect their networks.

In 1918, in order to stop the costly competitive battle, NWB and Tri-State agreed to divide the state of Minnesota in half and then stay out of each otherís territory. In St. Paul (Tri-State) and Minneapolis (NWB) the two companyís manual and automatic systems were interconnected. The project required vast amounts of wires and cables, switchboard modifications, a completely new combined telephone book, thousands of telephone number changes and a lot of customer education. The interconnected systems werenít ready for service until 1920.

In 1928, Tri-State purchased the Dakota Central Telephone Company.

In 1929, a syndicate headed by Theodore Gary, Kansas City, attempted to purchase control of the Tri-State company. As experienced telephone people, the Gary group felt they should control all of the telephone operations in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area, but they had no chance of buying out NWB. So, NWB began to help Gary buy out Tri-State. By 1933, the Gary people owned the controlling interest in Tri-State (using money loaned to them by NWB, they paid $200 a share). On Feb. 21, 1933, the Gary people turned over their shares of Tri-State to NWB and NWB forgave their $19.5 million debt.

NWB now owned the Tri-State, Dakota Central, and Zenith companies.

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