In the days before cell phones and the days before the handheld radios, the Crab communicated with the different camps via CB radio. Before the CB radio there was a telephone phone system and the Cripple Crab had its own switchboard.
There was a hardwire phone system at the reservation in the 1960s and early 1970s. Imagine an old school crank phone enclosed in a metal box. You would pick up the phone, roll the crank, and call up to the Crab. The Crab would pick would pick up and connect you to wherever it was you were calling. There were phone locations at each of the camps (Parnell, Stahlman, Murrey)–both the office (a tent!) and the kitchen, the Boat Harbor, the waterfronts, the compound, the Ranger’s House, and… wait for it.. Duck Head! Remember, there was no Health Lodge at this point.
And, as appalling as it may sound, sometimes the phone system was used by the Crabbies to ring the various location that Ward Akers was in camp and on his way! After all, according to legend, Akers would fire you on the spot if you weren’t doing your job!
The photo shown here is THE switchboard used at Boxwell. The photo is pretty non-descript, but it is the switchboard. Today, it is currently located in the Sumner County Museum in Gallatin, TN.