Hello, Operator? The “World’s Largest Telephone” Stands Right Here In Maine
Before we all had cell phones in our pocket, people had to use hand-cranked phones to communicate. The last company to operate those existed right here in Maine.
There isn't much debate that cellular phone technology is something we all take for granted. But perhaps a trip to Bryant Pond, Maine and a visit to the "World's Largest Telephone" will make you appreciate just how far we've come in terms of person-to-person communication.
According to Atlas Obscura, the 14-foot sculpture of a hand-cranked telephone was erected in honor of the Bryant Pond Telephone Company. That company was the last one in the United States to operate the hand-cranked phone system. If you're unfamiliar with the process, a third person was part of every single phone call made, with the operator "connecting" you with the person you're trying to reach or updating you on the latest current events. Watch a really old movie on TV, and you'll see the system in action.
Townspeople loved the old system so much, they didn't convert to the "new" dial service until 1983 after the family who ran the Bryant Pond Telephone Company decided to sell 2 years prior. Residents of Bryant Pond wanted to celebrate their historical significance and hired an artist, Gil Whitman, to install a piece of work that the town could be proud of.
That gave birth to the "World's Largest Telephone", which was unveiled in 2008. It stands right across the street from the Post Office in Woodstock, Maine. If you're traveling on Rte. 26, you can't miss it. The sculpture is available for the public to take pictures and grab a closer look but unfortunately, it's not a working hand-crank phone. There's no operator available at this time.