Tri-state Telephone and Telegraph Company Then and Now
The Tri-State Telephone & Telegraph Company was a major competitor of Northwestern Bell Telephone. In 1918, in order to stop an expensive competitive battle, Northwestern Bell Telephone and the Tri-State agreed to divide the state of Minnesota in half and stay out of each other’s way. St. Paul was to be served by the Tri-State Telephone & Telegraph Company. The other side of the river belonged to Northwestern Bell Telephone. In 1920 the two companies decided to interconnect manual and automatic systems. The project required miles of wires and cables, switchboard modifications, a new combined telephone book and changes in thousands of telephone numbers. In 1928, the Tri-State Telephone & Telegraph Company bought out the Dakota Central Telephone Company. In 1933 after almost five years of unsuccessful attempts a syndicate headed by Theodore Gary of Kansas City managed to secure a controlling interest of Tri-State. The Gary Group paid out $200 a share before turning over Tri-State over to Northwestern Bell Telephone in return for forgiveness of a $19.5 million debt. As a result Northwestern Bell Telephone then owned the Tri-State, Dakota Central, and Zenith telephone companies. The old Tri-State, Dale Exchange building is still being used as an apartment building.