Telephone museum destroyed by raging flames in Butte fire

Telephone museum destroyed by fire

The JKL Museum of Telephony, an hour and a half outside of Stockton, is the private phone museum of John K. La Rue. The museum was destroyed by the Butte fire.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A telephone museum housed in mountains near the town of San Andreas was among the hundreds of homes and buildings destroyed by raging flames from the 70,760-acre Butte fire.

Although flames ate through the American Museum of Telephony, also known as the JKL Museum of Telephony, museum staff says it plans to rebuild.

“After the initial shock wore off, museum management decided that the JKL Museum will be rebuilt,” its website said. “It is a decision that has heartened and emboldened the volunteers and contributors who made the museum what it was.”

The building’s charred wood beams were all that remained of the museum, which once housed a vast collection of telephones from around the world. The building was destroyed Sept. 11 as flames ripped through the community of Mountain Ranch.


The former mining town of about 1,600 people was one of several communities in Amador and Calaveras counties devastated by the deadly wildfire that has killed two.

Owner John K. La Rue’s collection not only included telephones dating to the 1880s, it contained an array of telephony publications, catalogs and 100-year-old texts, according to its website.

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Now the nonprofit organization is looking for collections through donations to replace any antique relics lost in the fire.


“We believe it can once again be the very best resource and repository of antique telephone equipment, advertising, library material, real working telephone switching systems, and all else telephone,” the museum’s website said.

Anyone interested in donating should visit the museum’s website.

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