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Circa 1910

The Jupiter Lighthouse Wireless Station

This postcard photo of the Jupiter Lighthouse shows in good detail the Jupiter Wireless Telegraph Station antenna masts. The mast to the left of the lighthouse was the main and original mast structure and was connected to the lattice tower seen to the right of the lighthouse.

The original construction date of the the Lighthouse was in 1860 just prior to the civil war between the States.  The construction of the Wireless Station is uncertain but is believed to be sometime after 1900.  The U.S. Navy constructed the first wireless telegraph experimental facility in Arlington VA.  The second wireless Telegraph facility was constructed in Jupiter.   "The Jupiter site was chosen mainly because of its location as It was 1000 miles from Arlington, just far enough to make experimentation with wireless quite realistic and useful.  It was linked with other wireless sites by landline telegraph and it was far enough south for ship-to-shore testing in the Gulf and Caribbean waters."  Additionally, the southernmost U.S. weather service station was located in Jupiter at the site.

"In the early days, the Jupiter facilities consisted principally of the main building, a power building, a storage house, a boathouse with dock, quarters for the petty officer in charge at a 120-foot wooden antenna mast." The entire facility occupied about three acres of the government reservation property.

"The antenna mast was made in the style of the early sailing ships, several long wooden poles lashed together with steel wire ropes. This mast was kept upright by a multitude of guy wires and stood magnificently on the north side of the Jupiter River for a good many years." (The mast to the right in the photo is one of the surviving wood masts.  The steel tower no longer exists, but the cement mounting pylons are still visible.)

The primary mission of the wireless station was to provide aid to mariners 

Part of the mission of serving maritime operations was to issue time checks for passing ships. Time checks were important because it helped the ship establish its exact location. The Jupiter wireless station would transmit its time check at 12:05 each day (Five minutes after the signal was broadcast from Arlington). Additionally, the Jupiter station gave a visual time check to passing ships by dropping a time ball. A five-foot diameter canvas ball was hoisted 100 feet up the antenna mast at 11:55 a.m. each day. At noon when the time-click from Arlington was received, the time ball was dropped down the mast. In this manner mariners were able to accurately fix their location, time, and distance to port. 

Also, because Jupiter operated a telegraph station at the same facility, mariners could have messages telegraphed by land line to their destination ports.

A second operational mission was to provide for testing and evaluation of wireless facilities for the government. In this respect the wireless station served well acting as a test site for government transmissions and assisting in the development of wireless technology throughout the world.
 
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1/18/10

2010 K4LRA Lighthouse Amateur Radio Alliance, all rights reserved.