Rhode Island’s WWII farmhouse monitoring station

SX-99-DialMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Mike (AC4NS), who shares a link to this fascinating article by Tom Mooney? in the TheProvidence Journal. Here’s an excerpt:

“There was nothing remarkable to see on Chopmist Hill in 1940 when, a year before the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor and bring America into the war, a Boston radio technician by the name of Thomas B. Cave drove up Darby Road.

[…]Cave worked for the Intelligence Division of the Federal Communications Commission, charged with finding a hilltop in southern New England that could serve as one of several listening posts to detect radio transmissions from German spies in the United States.

What he discovered up at William Suddard’s 183-acre farm was nothing short of miraculous.

Because of some geographic and atmospheric anomalies, Cave reported he could clearly intercept radio transmissions coming from Europe — even South America.

As a Providence Journal story revealed after the war, military officials were initially skeptical. They wanted Cave to prove his remarkable claims that from Chopmist Hill he could pinpoint the location of any radio transmission in the country within 15 minutes.

The Army set up a test. Without telling the FCC, it began broadcasting a signal from the Pentagon. From atop the 730-foot hill in the rural corner of Scituate, it took Cave all of seven minutes to zero in on the signal’s origin.

In March 1941, the Suddards obligingly moved out of their 14-room farmhouse, leasing the property to the FCC.

Workers set off erecting scores of telephone poles across the properly, purposely sinking them deep to keep them below the tree line. They strung 85,000 feet of antenna wire — the equivalent of 16 miles — around the poles and wired it into the house.[…]”

Click here to read the full article in the The Providence Journal.

If you find this fascinating, you might also read this article about the Radio Secret Service in England.

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2 thoughts on “Rhode Island’s WWII farmhouse monitoring station

  1. Rupert

    The Afrika Korps tank radios mentioned used 27 MHz – later to become the CB band, of course – and the monitors were fortunate that propagation at the time was excellent. New listeners may find it hard to credit that when the sun is being more generous than it has been lately, the upper HF bands can be absolutely full of low-power signals crossing the globe. As a schoolkid in the late 70s/early 80s, I remember months when I could not only hear American, South African and European CB 4 watt transmissions, but often talk back to them.

    (The British tanks used either 2-8 MHz or 230-240 MHz, both in the famous Wireless Sets 19.

    Reply

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