The goal of this project is to apply the literature on entrepreneurship to the development of the telegraph industry to answer questions regarding the role and success of the entrepreneur. The standard model of competitive markets taught at the undergraduate level does not include the entrepreneur. Growing literatures seek to provide a theoretical explanation for and empirical evidence of the role of the entrepreneur. This project will be a narrative that links the intentions, actions, and outcomes of early entrepreneurs in the telegraph industry, focusing on those factors that shaped the development of the industry. During the early years of the industry, new technologies, a poor understanding of the requirements to build workable lines, and great variations in managerial skill led to a period that one historian dubbed 'the era of unbridled competition.' The issue that I am particularly interested in researching is the link between the entrepreneurs' visions for how the industry should be organized and the entrepreneurs' ultimate financial success. At this early stage in the research project, I have two competing narratives concerning the success of early entrepreneurs. The first is that acumen and good management led to subsequent financial success. The second is that market forces beyond the power of any individual entrepreneur were moving the industry in a particular direction. Some lucky few would benefit at the end of the day, but for reasons largely unrelated to their own planning or actions.