Night of Nights

Night of Nights XXI
CANCELLED
Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS) and the National Park Service are sorry to announce that, because of the ongoing closure of the KPH transmit and receive sites due to COVID-19 precautions, it will not be possible for Night of Nights XXI to take place.

While it's disappointing for everyone that the Night of Nights tradition will be disrupted this year, the health and safety of park volunteers must come first. But rest assured that as soon as access to the transmit and receive sites becomes possible, members of the Maritime Radio Historical Society will be working hard to bring the equipment back on line and return stations KPH, KFS, and K6KPH to the air.

While KPH, KFS, and K6KPH will not be on the air for Night of Nights XXI, MRHS members will be active from their home stations using their personal call signs on the usual K6KPH frequencies (3550, 7050, 14050). At 5:01 pm PDT on July 12 (0001 GMT 13 July), these stations will send the traditional Night of Nights opening message that, in the past, has been sent via KPH. They will then stand by for calls or will call CQ NON or CQ NIGHT OF NIGHTS. No members have stations with the power of K6KPH, so listen carefully for these call signs: WB6OVV, N6BBF, WB6UZX, AA6IF, N6AD, W6AWO, W6DHM, and possibly others.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Night of Nights, this is the annual MRHS event intended to honor and commemorate the men and women who made the profession of radiotelegraph operator one of honor and skill. On July 12, 1999, what was thought to be the last commercial Morse message in the US was sent. But one year later, the MRHS held the first Night of Nights to symbolically pick up the thread and carry on with the tradition of maritime Morse communication. The event has been held every year on that date since then and has become a tradition in the radio community. We hope you will join us for Night of Nights in 2021 and that you will listen for KPH, KFS, and K6KPH when we are able to return those stations to the air.


 
A seated volunteer surrounded by old computers and electronic equipment uses a Morse key to broadcast a Morse code radio message while a volunteer standing on the right reads the message aloud to attendees.
Maritime Radio Historical Society founder Richard Dillman keys the initial commemorative broadcast during Night of Nights XX while volunteer engineer Roy Henrichs reads the message aloud to attendees.

July 12 every year
from 3 pm to midnight
at the Historic RCA Coast Station KPH

In the annual "Night of Nights", historic Morse code radio station KPH returns to the air in commemoration of the closing of commercial Morse operation in the USA.

Frequency and reception report information for all stations appear at the Maritime Radio Historical Society website.

KPH, the ex-RCA coast station located north of San Francisco, returns to the air for commemorative broadcasts every year on July 12 at 5:01 pm PDT (13 July at 0001 GMT). On July 12, 1999, the last commercial Morse transmission in the U.S. was thought to have been broadcast at 5 pm PDT (13 July at 0000 GMT). Transmissions are expected to continue until at least midnight PDT (0700 GMT).

Members of the public are invited to visit the receiving station for this event. The station will be open to visitors beginning at 3 pm PDT. The station is located at 17400 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and is on the route to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Watch for a cypress lined driveway on the right about a mile past the road leading to the Life-Saving Service Cemetery.
Directions to Bear Valley Visitor Center
Directions from Bear Valley Visitor Center to Historic RCA Coast Station KPH

 
A black and white photo of a white art deco building used by RCA for wireless radio reception.
Point Reyes Receiving Station KPH

Night of Nights is an annual event held on the 12th of July by the Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS) to commemorate the history of maritime radio and the closing of commercial Morse operations in the USA. These on-the-air events are intended to honor the men and women who followed the radiotelegraph trade on ships and at coast stations around the world and made it one of honor and skill.

Once, the maritime mobile bands were populated edge to edge with powerful coast stations operating from virtually every country on every continent. Once, the ships of world trade and the great passenger liners filled the air with their radiograms—and with their calls for help when in danger on the sea. Now those bands are largely silent.

MRHS member Richard Dillman shares what it was like for many radiotelegraphers:

12 July 1999 was a sad day for many of us. We knew it was coming but when the end finally arrived it was a shock. I was there.

It was the supposed last day of Morse code. The final sign off took place at a remote station on the Pacific coast. Women attending the event were dressed as if at a funeral. Grizzled, hard bitten old men, the kind you wouldn't mess with in a bar room, had tears in their eyes as the last messages was keyed out to the world at 0000 gmt. And then there was silence.

It was just beeps in the air. But that's how much Morse code means to the men and women who made the profession of radiotelegrapher one of honor and skill.

But the prediction of the death of Morse code was not to be fulfilled. On that day the Maritime Radio Historical Society was born. On that day we began plans to restore a Morse code radio station—the famous KPH. One year later we held the first "Night of Nights" when not only KPH but other coast stations appeared once again on the air. Every year since we have commemorated that date by returning these stations to the air and thereby, we hope, honoring the men and women who came before us.

Once a year the Maritime Radio Historical Society returns stations KPH and KFS to the air. Other historic stations often join in. Calls from ships at sea make the event seem as if the golden age of maritime radio has returned.

K6KPH, the amateur radio station of the Maritime Radio Historical Society, will also be on the air receiving signal reports and messages from Morse code enthusiasts around the world. This gives Maritime Radio Historical Society information about how well the stations are being heard and gives amateur stations the experience of what it was like to work a real coast station.

The transmitters are located 18 miles south of Point Reyes in Bolinas at the transmitting station established in 1913 by the American Marconi Co. The original KPH transmitters, receivers and antennas are used to activate frequencies in all the commercial maritime HF bands and on MF as well.

Many of the KPH transmitters are 50s vintage RCA sets. KFS uses a 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW-15 transmitter on 12Mc. This is the transmitter that was in service at KFS on the "last day" of American Morse and is thought to be the last PW-15 in service in the world. The transmitting antennas include a Marconi T for MF, double extended Zepps for 4, 6, and 8Mc, and H over 2s for 12, 16, and 22Mc.

KPH sends traffic lists, weather, and press broadcasts as well as special commemorative messages, some of which are sent by hand. At other times the KPH and KFS repeating message (called the "wheel") is sent to mark the transmitting frequencies.

KPH and KSM are operated by the Maritime Radio Historical Society in cooperation with the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Further information on this event may be found on the Maritime Radio Historical Society web site or by contacting the MRHS by email or by phone at 415-990-7090.

Visit our Historic KPH Maritime Radio Receiving Station and Cypress Tree Tunnel page for more information on visiting the site at other times of the year and our Communications at Point Reyes page for more information about RCA / Marconi Wireless Stations in the Point Reyes area.

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Last updated: July 5, 2020

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