Chatham Marconi Maritime Center Overview

    Chatham Marconi Maritime Center
831 Orleans Road
North Chatham, MA 02650
(508) 945-8889

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Today we picture Cape Cod as a haven for Fishing, Shell fishing, Vacationing, and as a world center for the arts. But in the late 19th and early 20th century, Cape Cod was also a center for Communication Technology with some of the leading edge scientific work showing its fruits here.

The Marconi Campus site and its finely crafted buildings were designed and built by the J. G. White Engineering Company for the American Marconi Corporation and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

In 1899 Guglielmo Marconi validated his theory that Wireless signals could extend across the Atlantic and offer competition to the Cable monopoly on communication. Marconi was also attracted to Cape Cod for its proximity to Europe and in 1903 astounded the world by completing two way communications between his 35,000 watt station in Wellfleet and Poldu England. Marconi was at the same time extending his enterprise by communicating with ships at sea outfitted with leased Marconi Spark Gap Transmitters and Marconi Magnetic Receivers.

It was in 1901 that the American Marconi Corporation started its first commercial Ship to Shore station, MSC on Nantucket. It was at that station where a young Russian immigrant David Sarnoff began his wireless career working for Marconi. Sarnoff eventually became the head of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) when it acquired the assets of the Marconi Company after World War I. The Nantucket Building still stands.

Marconi received the Nobel Prize in 1909 and his name became a household word. His fame obtained financing for a new project to aggressively compete with the undersea cable companies offering of higher speeds and dramatically lower costs.

He began to construct a series of stations that would link America with both Europe and Japan. In 1914 he constructed the now famous campus on Ryder’s Cove in Chatham as Circuit 3 to communicate with Naerboe and Stavanger Norway. Chatham was the controlling location where a highly sensitive receiving station was to exist and remotely operate the 300,000 watt CW spark transmitter 30 miles away in Marion. The Chatham Station was built in 1914.

In 1914, Guglielmo Marconi built a high powered wireless station in Massachusetts. The receivers were here in Chatham and the transmitters were forty miles west, in Marion. The station was paired with a station in Norway to provide wireless communication between the two continents, using Morse code. That plan was interrupted by World War I. After the war, the station was bought by RCA and, except during World War II, stayed in operation as a wireless maritime station for over seventy years until 1997.

This exhibit gallery tells the story of the station from its construction in 1914 to its closing in 1997.

As you tour the station you will discover its ''Untold Story''.

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