Friday, January 23, 2009

Google Earth Pt. Reyes Tour Ends

What you want to do now is zoom Google Earth out to a high altitude. 50 miles should do it. This puts you in space, and you qualify for astronaut wings, but that's not relevant here.

Get Point Reyes in the middle of the screen so you can see it all. Notice the large line etched in the ground in such a manner as to separate the point from the land to its east. This line starts down south around Bolinas and Stinson Beach at 37 degrees 54 minutes 23 seconds North Latitude by 122 40 33 West Longitude. It heads out to sea on the north end of Tomales Bay, at about 38 degrees 14 minutes 46 seconds North by 122 59 01 West.

This is California's notorious San Andreas Fault. Point Reyes National Seashore is on a plate tectonic boundary, and the motion on this long strike-slip fault will eventually break it away from the rest of California, creating an island. Tomales Bay is where this has already happened.

While of course this is a geologic process requiring millions of years, about 20 feet of this motion happened all at once on a stretch from here clear to Cape Mendocino. This event is better known as the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Now go part way up Tomales Bay to a spot on its east shore:

38° 8'39.22"N 122°52'40.99"W

This puts you in a rather picturesque shoreside complex with one big old building and several smaller cottages. This is the Marshall receiving station originally built by Marconi after the earthquake destroyed the original KPH in the Palace Hotel down in San Francisco.

As with other Marconi Hotels in the world, the Marconi company created a very attractive and comfortable, not to mention highly self-sufficient complex where the staff lived. This was necessary, given the remote locations of the stations. To the left of the main hotel with its veranda, were cottages for the station manager and chief engineer.

Various white objects in the large clearings to the north and east suggest possible former antenna locations. Some equipment remains on exhibit at the site, and I believe there may still be landlines in existence enabling remote operation of KPH from there.

When Marconi Wireless left the United States not altogether voluntarily after World War I, the subsequent Radio Corporation of America (RCA) owned the property. KPH did not move until after World War II. RCA eventually sold to a series of other owners, including the Synanon program. It was ultimately confiscated by the IRS, and then abandoned. Now it is park service property. It is being restored, and made available as a conference center.

The transmitters were in the old "power house" at the Bolinas facility, which we've already looked at.

Marshall is the VERY small town to the north, on the little inlet and former marina type thing called Marconi Cove. I believe it's all ranch land now. There's really not much in the way of habitation at all.

The Maritime Radio Historical Society has sought to do remote KPH operations from Marshall.