The Prussian Semaphore System was a telegraphic communications system used between Berlin and the Rhine Province from 1832 to 1849. It could transmit administrative and military messages by optical signal over a distance of nearly 550 kilometers (342 mi). The telegraph line comprised 62 stations each furnished with a signal mast with six cable-operated arms. The stations were equipped with telescopes that operators used to copy coded messages and forward them to the next station. Three dispatch departments (telegraphische Expeditionen) located in Berlin, Cologne and Koblenz handled the coding and decoding of official telegrams. Although electric telegraphy made the system obsolete for military use, simplified semaphores were still used for railway signals.