RCA makes history again in Rocky Point! A piece of radio history, in the form of a logo of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) that has been in the care of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) since the late 1970s will be donated to the Rocky Point Historical Society, DEC Region One, Regional Director Peter A. Scully announced.
“Donating this sign to the Rocky Point Historical Society is a way of preserving RCA’s scientific legacy in the Rocky Point area, as well as their legacy of conservation,” said Director Scully. We are glad that this monument will now have a fitting home with the Rocky Point Historical Society where local residents can come and learn about the important role played by this company in the region.
The presentation of the artifact from the New York State Department of Environmental Control to the Rocky Point Historical society took place on Friday, December 17th at 11 AM at the Marconi wireless building in front of the Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School in Rocky Point. It is of special significance that the presentation took place in front of the little Marconi “radio shack”, which originated in Babylon in 1902, and stood in front of RCA’s Building #1 for many years.
Permission to use school ground came from Rocky Point School District Superintendent, Michael F. Ring. Dr. Ring stated: “It is our pleasure to have the society here for the presentation of the RCA sign. Preserving our local history is an important undertaking and a critical component of the education of our children. Therefore, it is fitting that this should take place on the grounds of the FJC building. Many thanks for inviting me to participate in the event.”
The idea to donate the sign came after Kenneth Monz, a charter member of the Rocky Point Historical Society and a local hunter, noticed the sign at the DEC’s Ridge Check Station on Randall Road in Ridge where it had been kept in a barn for nearly three decades.
Former Chief Engineer in Charge, Robert Lundquist, stated the RCA logo sign was situated above the front door Building #1 of the Radio Central Transmitting Station in Rocky Point. Mr. Lundquist, whose office was inside the building, was delighted when informed the artifact will become part of the historical society’s collection. Lundquist, who is an honorary member of the Rocky Point Historical Society, is an authority on RCA technology and history. I” was proud to serve as the Station Engineer at Rocky Point and very proud of what RCA contributed, not only to the Town of Brookhaven, but in its global communication as the largest and most powerful station in the world. On September 28, 1978 a group of RCA and New York State officials, including the then Governor, Hugh L. Carey, gathered in the lobby of the main RCA building #1, to formalize the transfer of both the Rocky Point and Riverhead properties to the State of New York. Governor Carey presented a token payment for the properties in the form of a silver dollar . In December of 2004 I presented that silver dollar to the Rocky Point Historical Society for their archive collection.”
Natalie Aurucci Stiefel, officer of the Rocky Point Historical Society, mentioned: “Our Officers, Trustees and members feel it a deep privilege and honor to be the caretakers of artifacts from Rocky Point. We are committed to preserving and sharing our rich heritage of Rocky Point’s history, from its early settlers in the early 18th century, through the development of Rocky Point and the world-wide communication center of RCA Radio Central during the 20th century.
The largest transmitting station in the world, RCA Radio Central was officially opened on November 5, 1921, when President Warren G. Harding pressed a button from his office in Washington, D.C., to signal the start of the Alexanderson alternators at Rocky Point. The station was formed, shortly after World War I, when its predecessor, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, was returned by the U. S. government to private control.
RCA and state Conservation Department, which preceded the DEC, enjoyed a long history of environmental stewardship dating back to 1961 when the first Long Island Fish and Wildlife Management (FWMA) Cooperative was created.
The cooperative area at that time consisted of 800 acres or RCA property south of Whiskey Road, now part of the Rocky Point Natural Resources Management area, along with 2,700 acres owned by other adjacent landowners. By 1975 only RCA and one other cooperator remained in the arrangement as land was sold off for other purposes. With the cooperative area now down to 1,820 acres DEC, which was created in 1970, negotiated a new arrangement with RCA to include all land owned by RCA north of Whiskey Road in the cooperative area. This arrangement increased the RCA Cooperative to 5,836 acres.
RCA developed the property as a transmitting station for long wave radios, with the use of these antenna fields peaking in the late 1940s and 1950s and with the advent of satellite communications in the late 1960s their purpose steadily declined and the Rocky Point facility ceased operating in 1978. In September 1978, RCA donated its 5,016-acre Rocky Point property as well as the company’s 2,056 -acre Town of Southampton property, which was their Receiving Station, now known as the David A. Sarnoff Preserve, to the DEC. The Sarnoff Preserve’s total acreage is now 2,183 and the Rocky Point Natural Resources Natural Management Area’s total acreage is 5,135 acres due to additional DEC acquisitions since 1978.
The RCA site in Rocky Point played an important part in developing many innovations of radio and television. RCA’s Director, David Sarnoff, brought radio to the people. Radio pioneers from all over the world visited the station, such as Guglielmo Marconi, Edwin H. Armstrong, Lee DeForest, Charles P. Steinmetz and Nikola Tesla.