Monday, February 20, 2012

Radio History at Point Reyes

A visit to Point Reyes National Seashore usually includes hiking, spectacular ocean views, wildlife viewing, and spring wildflowers.  However, there is also a bit of radio history at Point Reyes.

If you are driving out to the lighthouse or Chimney Rock on a Saturday afternoon, you may see a sign by the side of the road announcing "Historic Radio Equipment."  Take the turn and you will arrive at the historic receiving station opened by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1920.  Initially, the array of radios captured messages transmitted from around the Pacific Rim and forwarded them to the RCA office in San Francisco.

After World War II, maritime station KPH, started operations in the building.  KPH, which first transmitted from San Francisco's Palace Hotel in 1905, provided telegram services to ships at sea via Morse Code.  Point Reyes was the receiving station for KPH, while the transmitting station was in Bolinas, about 20 miles south of the park.  KPH ceased commercial operation in 1997.

Volunteer Radio Operator

Historic Radio Equipment

Now members of the Maritime Radio Historical Society have brought the station back to life.  Volunteer radio operators have restored much of the old equipment and transmit and receive messages via Morse Code from nostalgic radio operators aboard ships and on land.  The receiving station at Point Reyes usually welcomes visitors on Saturdays from noon until 4:00 p.m.  However, don't make a special trip to visit the station without first contacting the Society to make sure the station will be open.  You can reach the Society at info@radiomarine.org.  More information is available on the Maritime Radio Historical Society's website, www.radiomarine.org.

If you would like to take a private tour that includes a visit to KPH, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

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