Night of Nights with the Maritime Radio Historical Society
Join us for the annual Night of Nights with the Maritime Radio Historical Society at Point Reyes National Seashore to learn about history of ship to shore communications, Morse code and the challenges and perks of radio communications. Every July 12, operators from the Society bring the historic radio station KPH back to the air in commemoration of the closing of commercial Morse code operations in the USA. These on-the-air events are intended to honor the men and women who followed the radiotelegraph trade on ships and at coast stations around the world.
The public is invited to attend starting at 3:00 pm at the Historic RCA Coast Station Beach at 17400 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just north of North Beach and on the route to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Watch for a cypress lined driveway on the right about a mile past the entry to Coast Guard station.
Once, the maritime mobile bands were populated edge to edge with powerful coast stations operating from virtually every country on every continent. Once, the ships of world trade and the great passenger liners filled the air with their radiograms--and with their calls for help when in danger on the sea. Now those bands are largely silent.
MRHS member Richard Dillman shares what it was like for many radiotelegraphers:
“12 July 1999 was a sad day for many of us. We knew it was coming but when the end finally arrived it was a shock. I was there.
It was the supposed last day of Morse code. The final sign off took place at a remote station on the Pacific coast. Women attending the event were dressed as if at a funeral. Grizzled, hard bitten old men, the kind you wouldn't mess with in a bar room, had tears in their eyes as the last messages was keyed out to the world. And then there was silence.
One year later we held the first "Night of Nights" when not only KPH but other coast stations appeared once again on the air. Every year since we have commemorated that date by returning these stations to the air and thereby, we hope, honoring the men and women who came before us.”
More information about RCA / Marconi Wireless Stations in the Point Reyes can be found here or on the Maritime Radio Historical Society’s website. Further information on Night of Nights contact Richard Dillman at (415) 663-8982.