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A History of Wireless Telegraphy (2nd edition, revised), J. J. Fahie, 1901, pages 39-40:


    One of the first difficulties encountered in the early days of the telegraph in India was the crossing of the great water-ways that abound in that country; and it was this difficulty which first directed the attention of Dr O'Shaughnessy, the introducer of the system in India, to the subject of subaqueous telegraphy.
    In 1849 he laid a bare iron rod under the waters of the river Huldee, 4200 feet wide, with batteries and delicate needle instruments in connection on each bank. Signals were passed, but "it was found that the instruments required the attention of skilful operators, and that in practice such derangements occurred as caused very frequent interruptions."
    He next tried the experiment without any metallic conductor, using the water alone as the sole vehicle of the electric impulses, but, though he again succeeded in passing intelligible signals, he found that the battery power for practical purposes would be enormous (he used up to 250 cells of the nitric acid and platinum form), and therefore prohibitively expensive.
    Although for practical purposes he soon abandoned the idea of signalling across rivers with naked wires, and without any wires at all, O'Shaughnessy for many years took great interest in the subject. Thus as late as 1858 we find him performing some careful experiments in the lake at Ootacamund, and in his Administration Report of the Telegraph Department for that year he says: "I have long since ascertained that two naked uncoated wires, kept a moderate distance--say 50 or 100 yards--apart, will transmit electric currents to considerable distances (two to three miles) sufficiently powerful for signalling with needle instruments."
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