Greenwich First: Trans-Atlantic Transmission


Many people are not aware that the first trans-Atlantic short wave message was sent from Greenwich to Scotland on December 11, 1921. A transmission shack was built on the Elisha P. Cronkhite estate near the intersection of North Street and Clapboard Ridge Road. Inside were wires, cables and coils. A telegraph key was used to send out Morse Code. In addition to the shack, two steel masts - one 108-feet and another 75-feet tall - were erected between which a Flat Top"T" cage antenna was strung. This became known as amateur radio station 1BCG. It took part in historic experiments conducted by amateur radio societies in Great Britain and the United States in the 1920s. As a result, a message was sent across the Atlantic and received in Ardrossan, Scotland. The message was also picked up in Holland, Germany, as well as every state in the Union.

Prior to this, radio messages were transmitted as long wave (15,000- to 20,000-meters). Amateurs were restricted to 200-meter wavelengths, which weren't considered powerful enough for long distance transmissions. However, advances in technology made it possible to transmit further and further. Expensive long wave equipment and antennas were no longer required.

The six-man operating and engineering staff included: John F. Grinan, Ernest V. Amy, Edwin H. Armstrong, George E. Burghard, Milton Cronkhite and Walker P. Inman.On December 29, 1921, the equipment and station were sent to Columbia University for research. It never operated again.

Monument MarkerBesides winning several awards for this achievement, a monument dedicating this event was placed at the corner of Clapboard Ridge Road and North Street. It's inscription reads:

"Near this spot on December 11, 1921,radio station 1BCG sent to Srdrossan, Scotland, the first message ever to span the Atlantic on short waves. 1BCG, an amateur station, was built and operated by members of the Radio Club of America.

Greenwich, Connecticut


On Cape Cod in 1900, Guglielmo Marconi built a long wave transmission station. It was composed of four 210-foot towers at Wellfleet. President Roosevelt sent a message to King Edward of England to commemorate its opening. In 1917, it was shut down due to the war for security reasons.

For more information, see Carl White in the local history office.


Thanks Carl for another historical gem. I remember visiting the Wellfleet sight of Marconi's transmission station but had no idea that Greenwich made their own contribution to the advancement of science in this field.

Ernest V. Amy was my father's mother's brother. I guess that makes him my great-uncle. Dad's Mom was Isabelle Amy, and she married Hubert McDonnell of Pecksland Rd. in Greenwich. They lived here in town for many years, as did my Dad, Kenneth McDonnell...and so do I. (I live in Old Greenwich). It is so interesting to read this history - thank you for posting!
Isabelle McDonnell (now Catino)

Isabelle - I'm glad you liked this blog posting. I thought it was a very interetsing story. Many years ago, I visited the Marconi Station on Cape Cod, and saw the main station and antennae. It was very impressive. I'm sorry to say that the building and transmission towers are no longer there.

My father used to be a "Ham" operator back in the 1960s. He used to talk to people all over the United States. I think he did it as part of the Civil Defense program; in case there was a national emergency, private radio operators could keep the public informed.

Please tell all your friends about my blog - and keep reading! Carl :)

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on July 16, 2010 3:37 PM.

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