Night of Nights

See the MRHS Evnts section for information about Night of Nights 2010

The last commercial Morse message in North America was transmitted from the Globe Wireless master station in Half Moon Bay, California on 12 July 1999.

[Check the Incredible Radio Tales section for Richard Dillman's moving account of what it was like to be there on that historic day.]

Once again Morse was declared dead on that day, as had happened so many times before. But with the restoration of KPH it became possible tp acknowledge and honor the history of Morse communications and the men and women who were part of that profession with a special on the air event.

On 12 July 2000, the first anniversary of that alleged last message, the Maritime Radio Historical Society brought KPH back to life on its original commercial frequencies, using the original transmitters and antennas at Bolinas. We gratefully acknowledge the help and support of Globe Wireless and the Point Reyes National Seashore. Without the assistance of the fine folks at those two organizations the event could never have taken place.

It was an emotional moment as the station returned to the air and many of the original KPH operators returned to the station they thought they would never see again. It was an event we came to call the "Night of Nights". Photos of that original Night of Nights appear below.

Night of Nights has since become a tradition.  Every year since, at 0001GMT, KPH has returned to the air to pick up the thread, keep the faith and carry on with the traditon of maritime Morse in honor of the men and women who came before us.

Night of Nights has grown.  Now we originate the signals of KFS using one of the 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW15 transmitters recovered from the KFS transmitter site (see the MRHS Projects section for photos of the recovery of two PW15s) and of our own coast station KSM.

Other stations have joined us on the air for this event including WLO in Mobile, AL and KLB near Seattle, WA.  In the past USCG stations NMC, NOJ and NMN have joined in too.

Listeners around the world wait with their earphones on to hear the marine bands once again poulated with Morse signals.  We receive many letters after these events, many of them quite emotional.  These are usually from ex-seagoing ROs who heard the KPH signal in every ocean of the world but never expected to hear it again.  Yet on the Night of Nights there it is again, rising up out of the static to be heard once again.

It means a lot to us to know our project means as much to others as it does to us.

Night of Nights is a public event.  The receiving station is open to visitors and it's usually packed with old timers and new comers alike.  Why not join is on the next 12 July?


View all images as a slideshow

BL control room

BL control room
BL control room

This is the control room at the Bolinas transmitting station, known as "BL". At the left end of the table can be seen the Boehme keying head we used to send the KPH marker or "wheel". Above the Boehme are the two receivers

Boehme key head

Boehme key head
Boehme key head

This is a closer view of the Boehme keying head and its associated 120VDC power supply. The dial atop the keyer indicates indicates the sending speed with a top speed of 300WPM! It was throttled back to its slowest speed for sending the KPH marker

Denice at the key

Denice at the key
Denice at the key

Denice Stoops, "DA" takes her place at the key. Denice came to KPH after service as a Morse operator at NMC. She was the first female operator hired at KPH.  It has since bcome traditional for Denice to send the "benediction" at midnight (local time) on each Night of Nights.

Ray Smith

Ray Smith
Ray Smith

Ray Smith "RC" was the senior Morse operator at KPH and sent the last message when the station shut down in 1997.

DM

DM
DM

Jack Martini "DM" sends a commemorative message. Jack was the last in a long line of KPH managers and had the sad duty of of closing the station on its final day. But in a gesture to the history of the station and the radio operators afloat Jack left the receivers on when he departed, keeping a symbolic warch on the airwaves. See the Incredible Radio Tales section for Richard Dillman's account (Spooky... Very Spooky) of what it was like to walk into the CW operating room almost two years after the operators had left for the last time.

TR

TR
TR

Warren Reese "TR" was a Morse operator at Point Reyes and the last transmitter technician at Bolinas. It was TR who turned the Bolinas transmitters off one by one as the circuits were taken over by the Globe Wireless master station KFS.

RD

RD
RD

As the night progressed the control room took on a typical mid-watch atmosphere. Here Rod Deakin "RD" of Globe Wireless (SK) keys KPH with a vintage Vibroplex bug. Rod was instrumental in obtaining the cooperation of Globe Wireless for the Night of Nights.  His photo hangs on permanent display in the Bolinas control room.

RD

RD
RD

Richard Dillman cends a commemorative message on the first Night of Nights.

DM signs endorsement

DM signs endorsement
DM signs endorsement

Jack Martini endorses Richard Dillman's radiotelegraph license showing him as an operator at KPH on the Night of Nights. The previous endorsement on the license shows Richard as an operator at KFS one year before on the "last day" of North American commercial Morse operation.

Die Hards

Die Hards
Die Hards

The die-hards who stayed at KPH until sign off on the Night of Nights standing in front of one of the K sets. Left to right: Steve Hawes "SH",Tom Horsfall "TH", Rod Deakin "RD", Denice Stoops "DA" and Richard Dillman "RD".