Alaska Fisheries Stations

All the major fishing and packing companies that operated in Alaska had their own small coast stations.  Duty at these stations could be difficult as was documented in a book called "The Radiobuster". While intended to be funny it gives the only known published glimpse into what it was like to be an operator at one of these stations during the mid-1920s just prior to the time the photos below were taken, when spark still ruled.


View all images as a slideshow

KZN Waterfall

 KZN Waterfall
KZN Waterfall

KZN at Waterfall, Alaska was a station of the Nakat Packing Corporation. It operated on 180kc, 182kc, 414kc and 500kc where it used type B (spark - maybe converted to CW by the time this photo was taken) emission as well as 2320kc, 2810kc and 6100kc using type A3 emission.  Equipment left to right is a converted Navy LF transmitter,  BL4 LF receiver, FB7 National receiver and DC100A3 Northern Radio receiver.  Photo taken in 1934 or 1935.

KZN Waterfall

 KZN Waterfall
KZN Waterfall

Closeup of KZN equipment, left view.

KZN Waterfall

 KZN Waterfall
KZN Waterfall

Closeup of KZN equipment, left view, showing radiotelephone transmitter and FB7 receiver.

KGM Ketchikan

 KGM Ketchikan
KGM Ketchikan

Station KGM of the Alaska Pacific Salmon Corporation in Ketchikan used voice transmission on 2512kc with 100W according to the ITU book of 1938.

KGM Ketchikan

KGM Ketchikan
KGM Ketchikan

Closeup of the station calendar showing 1934.

KJC Rose Inlet

 KJC Rose Inlet
KJC Rose Inlet

KJC Rose Inlet was a station of the Alaska Pacific Salmon Corporation. It used A1 emission on 180kc, 190.11kc and 500kc. It was in operation from 0700 to 2300gmt.

KJC Rose Inlet

 KJC Rose Inlet
KJC Rose Inlet

Closeup of the KJC receiving equipment.

KJC Rose Inlet

KJC Rose Inlet
KJC Rose Inlet

Closeup of the KJC transmitter showing wavelength selector that includes 600m to the left.

KVI, Unga Island

 KVI, Unga Island
KVI, Unga Island

KVI is the fictitious coast station on Unga Island that is the topic of Volney G. Mathison's book "The Radiobuster - Being Some of the Adventures of Samuel Jones, Deep Sea Wireless Operator".  While contemptible as literature it undoubtedly holds pride of place as the only novel written about the trials of a radioman at a fisheries radio station in Alaska - and a spark station at that.  It was published in 1924 by the Frederick K. Stokes Company.

As a bizarre side note, Mathison invented what he called the electro-encephaloneuromentimograph.  This became the famous E-meter used by devotees of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics program to help them "get clear".

He also wrote "The Secret Power of the Crystal Pendulum" published by the Institute of Self Hypnosis among several other books, some under the pen name Dex Volney.

KVI, Unga Island

 KVI, Unga Island
KVI, Unga Island

In the opening chapter our hero makes the fatal mistake of mentioning to "Kid" Cunningham, maker of tubes, that "This goin' to sea is th' bunk."  Cunningham knows a sucker when he sees one and immediately suggests that the Alaska Codfish Company down on Steuart St is looking for a wireless man for Unga Island.

The beguiling thing about the book is its authenticity, at least as far as radio matters go.  Steuart Street is a real San Francisco street near the waterfront, the details about the transmitters and motor generators are correct and the call signs, except for KVI, are genuine.

Wireless station at Kotlik

 Wireless station at Kotlik
Wireless station at Kotlik

Wireless station at Kotlik, mouth of Yukon River. Lower Yukon, Koyukuk, Alaska. September 15, 1916.  One feel lonley just looking at this photograph.

USGS Photo