Tag Archives: Tuckerton New Jersey

Tuckerton Radio Tower’s rich history and once record-setting height

(Image: RadioMarine.org)

(Source: The Sandpiper via Richard Langley)

Who knows how many Americans realize that 100 years ago the United States was at war? After all, when about 25 people on the street in Beach Haven in the summer of 2012 were asked for a SandPaper article what war the U.S. had been involved in 200 years previously, very few could answer the War of 1812. There seems to be a flaw in the way history is taught in the U.S., and maybe math as well.

So for those who don’t remember their high school history, in 1918 the U.S. was heavily involved – with well over 4 million troops in Europe – in World War I, the “War to End All Wars,” “The Great War.”

It is easy to imagine that even a world war wouldn’t very much affect what was then a remote and rural Ocean County. But it did, in many ways. German U-boats prowled the Atlantic off the Jersey Shore; nearby Fort Dix (at first Camp Dix) was created and became one of the premier U.S. Army basic training centers in the country for decades.

Nicholas Wood of the Ocean County Cultural Heritage Commission[…]discussed two aspects of Ocean County and WWI in his 75-minute lecture/slide show at the Long Beach Island Historical Museum on Monday evening.

[…]The second half of Wood’s presentation discussed the once-famous but now mostly forgotten Tuckerton Radio Tower, built in 1912 by the German government.

[…]The tower was 820 feet high, making it, at the time, the second tallest structure in the world, behind only the Eiffel Tower. It was one of the first and most powerful transatlantic radio stations ever constructed. It survived until 1955, when it was torn down and sold for scrap metal and today lends its name to Little Egg Harbor’s Radio Road.[…]

Click here to read the full story at The Sandpiper.

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The Tuckerton Tower’s long (and unlikely!) history

The Tuckerton Tower circa 1916 (Souce: Tom Mcnally mcnally.cc)

The Tuckerton Tower, circa 1916 (Souce: Tom Mcnally mcnally.cc)

I love radio history, and I dive right into it when something especially piques my interest. This morning, a news item from a local newspaper in New Jersey about that state’s famed, but nearly forgotten, Tuckerton Tower did just that.

Built in 1912, the Tuckerton Tower was once the tallest structure in the US.  Indeed, it was at that time the second tallest structure in the world (the Eiffel Tower had it beat by 243 feet).  Though on US soil, it was originally built by––get this––the German government, in order to communicate with an identical tower in Eilvese, Germany (see comments); of course, it also communicated with naval vessels. According to many sources, the US government may have been completely unaware of the construction of this communication monolith until it neared completion.

But that’s just the beginning of the story:  When the US entered WWI, the US government took over the tower’s operations and placed Tuckerton’s German operators and engineers in a POW camp.  Then, post-war, the newly-formed Radio Corporation of America (RCA) assumed the tower’s operation with the intention of using it for the latest and greatest innovation in radio communications: voice over wireless. Tuckerton Tower continued under RCA’s operation until the US government drafted it into service again, this time during WWII.

But even though the tower survived two world wars, weather events like nor’easters, and The Great Depression, by the late 1940s it was considered obsolete. Several attempts were made to preserve the historic structure, but on December 28, 1955, it was torn down and cut for scrap.  Today, a lower section of the tower can be viewed at the Tuckerton Historical Society’s museum, while the concrete block anchors that once held the monolithic structure upright now rest, somewhat defiantly, in the center of a residential area.

If you find this tower’s history as remarkable as I do, check out this informative and detailed article in The Sandpiper and Tom McNally’s History of Tuckerton Wireless which includes some excellent photos of the tower throughout history.

Are there any readers of The SWLing Post with memories long enough to remember the Tuckerton Tower, or who have heard stories about it?  Please comment!

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