Lester Cornow, 13, of Jackson, Miss., for his question:
In 1851, a group of men in Rochester, N.Y., organized the New York and Mississippi Valley printing Telegraph Company. In 1856 the name was changed to Western Union.
In 1861, Western Union built the first transcontinental telegraph line. The company eventually built a national system by uniting 540 telegraph companies. The last, Postal Telegraph, Inc., merged with Western Union in 1943.
In the 1950s, Western Union set up a high speed system for sending telegrams.
An additional 50 million miles of circuits were added to Western Union's facilities through a nationwide microwave network in the early 1960s.
Western Union handles the nation's telegrams, foreign and domestic money orders and millions of international telegrams. Telex press communications are also handled by Western Union.