North of Silicon Valley, protected by the Point Reyes National Seashore, is the only functional ship-to-shore maritime radio station. Bearing the summon clue KPH, the Point Reyes Station is the last of its style.
KPH is divided between two physical terminals: one, knows as the articulation, is responsible for transmitting; the other half of the station, known as the ears, was where human operators listened for incoming letters. The articulation is located 11 miles north of Point Reyes in the small town of Bolinas, Calif ., and the ears reside within the Point Reyes National Seashore boundary huddled in grasslands full of cattle and backdropped by the Pacific Ocean.
Stations like this once riddled the California coastline as part of a radio communication network. The hustlers who extended them were charged with watching over the Pacific Ocean airways, communicating senses to the sailors at sea.
” These chaps and women were the best there were, and they had to be ,” says Richard Dillman, primary operator at the Maritime Radio Historical Society.” On the ships, you could get away with anything. You could communicate slow, you could send fast, you could send like you were drunk, you could send like you are beating two spoonfuls together. At the coast line-up, you had to be able to say,’ penalty, I got it, you can send fast , no problem. Send gradual, I’llwait. Send like you are drunk, I can understand you .’ Because every name is revenue for the company because you were bill by the word .”
Dillman, who was never an employee of KPH, but preferably a self-described” groupee and radio-obsessed person ,” says the operators had to adapt to anything.” They were the best there were. They are our protagonists and protagonists .”
But formerly satellite communications became cheaper than paying radio adventurers, telegraphy become antiquated, and the network of radio stations became all but lost, as they were abandoned, sold and scavenged for components.
Marin County Congressman Clem Miller saved KPH from this fate by writing and introducing the statute in the process of preparing Point Reyes National Seashore. The bill retained the property from developing after enterprises dissolved.
A telegraphic timeline
The communications industry in the U.S. has met several brandishes of disruption. The first substantial invention was sending a message by carry electrical signals over a wire.
In 1843, Samuel Morse, the leader of Morse code, receive funds from Congress to set up and exam his new communication wire from Washington, D.C ., to Baltimore. Following completion, he sent the first official telegraph saying, “What hath God wrought.” What it run was fund.
Morse received fairly funding to string wire across an unsettled American countryside. From 1843 to 1900, wired telegraphy reigned until a new technology stopped the communication monopoly of Western Union.
On June 2, 1896, Guglielmo Marconi patented a system of wireless telegraphy that would utilize radio waves to transmit Morse’s dits and dahs, forming wired communication seem infrastructure-heavy. Plus, wireless telegraphy saw maritime and transcontinental communication a lot more simple.
For approximately 100 years, Morse code was used to communicate with ships at sea. By 1999 service industries had switched over to the cheaper and more efficient satellite communication systems.
The Point Reyes KPH station ended operations on June 30, 1997. The last day of U.S. commercial-grade employment of Morse code was July 12, 1999. The final theme send was the same as Morse’s first: “What hath God wrought.”
‘This was the end’
“It’s really beeps in the air, ” says Dillman.” That is all Morse code is. And hitherto it was so impactful and feelings to these people, ” he says about the operators and marines he was with during the last day of Morse. “Because here they are seeing their profession, their way of life, their skills disappearing. This was the end of the line. It used to be that you could take your permission and telegraph key and move onto the next depot, get a job , no problem. This was the end.”
After the last day of Morse in 1999, two years after KPH shut down, Richard and a few other radiomen drove up to the shuttered KPH station to assess how coarse these components had been in the two years since it closed.
“Here it was, our life’s work, just to be submitted to us ,” Dillman says.” Because here are the ears, in Point Reyes, still living. The expression in Bolinas — dark and cold, but existing. So all we were supposed to do was persuasion the ballpark services which are[ to redress the depot] was worth doing, and we were the people to do it. And we are still stunned that they bought our narrative, and we have not turned back.”
Dillman and the rest of the radio squirrels that hang around KPH can be found every Sunday and more than welcome visitors.
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