Our roots go back to the 1930's when this
part of North Carolina was a sparsely populated farming area. This was
in the midst of the Great Depression when jobs were few and times
were tough. Electric and telephone service did not exist in most of the
area now served by Yadkin Valley Telephone. These services were available
in the towns and cities, but the suppliers would not extend lines into
rural areas where they saw no possibility of earning a profit.
At this time, President Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. Congress, and our
state legislature were hard at work developing social programs designed
to get people back to work and return the country to prosperity. One such
program was the Rural Electrification Act. This piece of New Deal legislation
created a new federal agency, the Rural Electrification Administration,
which provided low interest loans and technical assistance to rural electric
cooperatives to bring electricity to the farms. It was this program that
brought electric service to the area during the 1930's and 1940's.
As the country emerged from World War II with great expectations, some
progressive individuals saw telephone service as an important way to bring
prosperity to rural areas. Most people in this area had electric service
by then, but still had no access to reliable telephone service. This was
the environment in 1946 when a group of local citizens joined together
to establish telephone service in the area.
The group first met with the local telephone providers who served the
nearby towns. However, after several meetings and some indefinite promises,
the group realized they would have to take matters into their own hands
since nothing of consequence was offered.
At about this time the group became aware of an effort in Washington to
expand the REA Act to include telephone service. Since the effort to provide
electric service to rural areas was successful, it seemed logical to use
the same approach for telephone service. This initiative, entitled the
Hill-Poage Act, was then being debated in Congress.
After a preliminary meeting to gather support from adjoining counties,
a group lead by Wade Groce, then Master of the Pino Grange, met on Friday
night, October 28, 1949 with the idea of taking advantage of this development.
This happened to be the same day that President Harry Truman signed the
Hill-Poage Act into law. The meeting was attended by representatives from
Davie, Yadkin, Rowan, Alexander and Iredell counties, and the group agreed
to form a telephone cooperative. The next order of business was to gather
signatures of all those wanting telephone service to determine if there
was sufficient interest to take the project further.
In late June, 1950, having gathered more than enough signatures on a preliminary
survey, the group held an organizational meeting to form the telephone
cooperative. The charter was issued by the state of North Carolina on
July 20, 1950.
The first meeting of the Board of Directors of Yadkin Valley Telephone
took place on July 24, 1950. J.M. Parks was elected president, Wade Groce
was elected vice president, and an application was made to the Rural Electrification
Administration for $518,000 in initial operating funds.
The early years of the Cooperative were challenging and often quite difficult.
Members of the Board of Directors were kept very busy with signing up
new members and negotiating the terms of the first REA loan. This activity,
in turn, led to hiring of a manager and staff; selecting an engineering
firm; letting of construction contracts; negotiating for the purchase
of small farmer owned lines and the like. The Cooperative actually began
operation in October 1951 when an exchange with 139 lines and a manual
switchboard was purchased from the Harmony May Telephone Co. Most of the
original construction of telephone lines and dial exchanges took place
during the period 1952 through 1955. The last original exchange of the
Cooperative to go into service was New Hope on August 7, 1955. The following
list shows when the original exchanges were cut to dial telephone service:
||Number of Subscribers
The 1960's and 1970's were a period of growth
and expansion for Yadkin Valley Telephone. In 1971 the Cooperative moved
into the office building that it now occupies in the Courtney area. In
1973, after completing extensive cable work, the Cooperative began offering
all one party service. By 1974 the system had grown to more than 10,000
lines, reaching 20,000 lines in 1991 and 30,000 in 1999.
During the late 1970's and 1980's the Cooperative replaced its aging electro-mechanical
switches with then newly available digital switching systems. Since 1994
the network has undergone a series of major upgrades to its second generation
of digital switching and is currently one of the most advanced systems
in North Carolina.
Today the Cooperative has grown to some 32,000 access lines and provides
a wide variety of services. New services are continually being added to
keep abreast of changing technology.