This week, share an image of your happy place, a secret spot you love, or a faraway location you return to again and again. —WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge
Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to the old trans-Pacific Marconi/RCA Wireless Station KPH in Point Reyes, CA. It is the first stop for us when we journey out to the coast and it never fails to excite my senses and intrigue my imagination.
Approximately 100 yards in length, the Cypress tree tunnel entrance focusses your attention on the Art Deco-designed building and gives a hint at the value that RCA had for this facility. Nestled on 62.7 acres of “G” Ranch coastland, Station KPH provided the most powerful ship-to-shore communications on the Pacific Rim from 1913 to the late 1990s. It was retired due to new ship and satellite technology, plus a decline in the use of Morse code.
The light, the shadows, and the history of this facility explode in my mind when I am in my “photo-zone”. I can’t help but think about the number of distress signals that passed thru this station. Mariners doing their best to stay afloat in roiling seas. Fellow humans reaching out for help one last time, or perhaps marking their location in hopes that their bodies can be found and returned home.
Less than a mile up the road is the cemetery for the Point Reyes Life-Saving Station (generally our second stop). Founded in 1871, the Life Saving and Lifeboat Stations were the forerunners to the U.S. Coast Guard and, in 1890 near this location, iron men took to the sea in wooden boats in an attempt to save survivors of ship wrecks. In 1927 the life-saving station was relocated to the more protected waters of Chimney Rock where longer, heavier, motorized boats replaced the human-powered surfboats.
It seems fitting to me that the the cemetery is situated so close to the radio station. Perhaps it formed an unconscious reminder to the wireless operators of the importance of their work.
Related Link: ‘You Don’t Have to Come Back’: Life and Death in the Waters of Point Reyes, The California Report, April 6, 2018