RCA RADIO CENTRAL TRANSMITTING STATION (excerpts from “In The Shadow of the RadioTowers by N. A. Stiefel)
The Radio Corporation of America
was formed soon after the end of World War I when it was incorporated in
1919.At that time the American Marconi
Wireless Telegraph Company of North America, was
returned by the U. S. Government to private control.The American government realized the
importance of an American wireless communications system, as ocean-laden cables
were vulnerable during wartime.Long
Island was an ideal and strategic location for wireless.
time was right for the formation of the Radio Corporation of America
which was brought about by the joint technical capabilities of several
organizations: GeneralElectric Company, American Telegraph and
Telephone Company, Western Electric Company, United Fruit Company, Westinghouse
Electric and Manufacturing Company and the Radio Corporation of America.The property of “RCA Radio Central” at Rocky Point covered approximately
6,400 acres, an area extending ten miles square.
The construction of “Radio
Central” began in July of 1920.At first
tents were used for the facility, which grew in time to the RCA Radio Central
complex. “Radio Central” at Rocky Point, was the transmitting station in the
“RCA” system with its sister receiving station at Riverhead (now the “David
A. Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve”) and
the main control office in Manhattan.
In July of 1920, RCA began construction of their main
Operating and AdministrationBuilding
#1. It was built in Spanish architecture of cream-colored walls, with brick
trim, accented with arched windows and an overhanging roof of ceramic red
tiles.A large wooden door, trimmed with
studded nail heads and a carved brass handle, opened into an entrance hall.
On November 5, 1921
President Warren C. Harding pressed a button in the White House in Washington,
D.C. which officially opened the RCA Radio
Central facilities at Rocky Point. “Radio Central” was considered the largest
transmitting station in the world.
Ernst F. W. Alexanderson at his invention ofthe 100 KW high frequency Alexanderson Alternator
Building #1 at RCA Radio Central.
Originally, long waves were used, resulting in the
construction of six410’ high steel towers.The tall height of the structures was necessary for the long distance,
worldwide type ofradio communications.The
twelve towers, which were 1260’ apart, covered a two and a half mile area.
Tower #1 remained standing tall, with its flashing red
beacon guiding planes and ships, served as an aviation beacon light for another
sixteen years.AT on December
13, 1977, the 56-year-old tower was the last to come down.
Tower #1 photo by R. Gallup
The Research and Development Division was located in
building #9, north of Whiskey Road.
Dr. Harold H. Beverage headed The Research Division.He started his career at General Electric as
a laboratory assistant to the world-renowned radio inventor, Dr.E.
F. W.Alexanderson. Both Dr. Beverage and Phillip S.
Carter laid out the experimental ground wire antennas on the road from
Riverhead to East Moriches. Phillip S. Carter was
responsible for many inventions including the V antenna and the Folded
Dipole.Dr. E. F. W. Alexanderson was responsible for many
of the pioneer radio inventions, including the Alexanderson Alternator and was
in the employ of RCA Radio Central as Chief Consulting Engineer. Dr. Clarence
Weston Hansell was founder and head of the Rocky Point Research Section of
the Laboratory. Building #10 was known as the Research and Development
Laboratory. Under his leadership and prolific inventions, the laboratory
developed radio transmitting, relaying technology and experimental television,
which firmed the standards for the industry.Dr. Hansell was responsible in developing 350 patents and 400 inventions.Rocky Point resident, Royal Gallup, worked at
the Research Division and helped install the television tower at the EmpireState building.
Due to the advent of Satellite communications, the
transmitting station at Rocky Point and receiving station at Riverhead became
obsolete.The Rocky Point facility was
closed in 1978.Robert Lundquist served
as Chief of Atlantic operations and was present when the last tower was
demolished.On behalf of RCA, he
received the “silver dollar” from Governor Carey for the transfer of the land
to New YorkState,
which is controlled by theNew York State Department of Conservation and is the largest
portion of pine barrens on Long Island. Mr. Lundquist
donated that silver dollar to the Rocky Point Historical Society for their