Patos Island Radio History

Our Board Member, OJ Loughhead is a Ham (among many other things) and I will post his informational research on this page. This is a work in process, so please be patient as I add all of his information. This is his post from January, 2016:

Bill remembers that Patos Light had the callsign NMW19 after the War. (I’m still trying to find all the others.) The main NMW was “USCG Seattle Radio Station” – although it was in Westport on the coast near the Grays Harbor Lighthouse. (NMW Westport closed in 1973. USCG Group Astoria now uses the callsign. NOW is Group Pt. Angeles.)

In the “Old Days” Hams and Shortwave Listeners just listening could send a signal report to radio stations (almost any radio station – commercial, military or amateur) and get a QSL Card! QSL is one of the Q Signals used with Morse Code (and sometimes vocal) to abbreviate communications. QSL = “Do you acknowledge receipt?”, or, “I acknowledge receipt.”

QSL Card – basically a Post Card. I found a site with someone who was a bit maniacal… I mean serious:

My listening and reports after that first season were a mixed bag over the years.  I did do a lot of listening on the 2 MHz marine band and picked up quite a few QSL’s from coast stations and from ships.  Here are selected coast stations including US Coast Guard, US Army in Alaska, Commercial Marine Operators (telephone service), and Canadian marine radio stations.   Starting with US Coast Guard here they are.  By the way, most of the 3 letter Coast Guard stations are now either gone completely or are downgraded from Radio Stations… I think there are only 3 or 4 left in 2008.

(a quick selection – West Coast “M” Stations only and Kodiak)

https://marscan.com/qslnmw.jpg (closed)
https://marscan.com/qslnmc.jpg (Pt. Reyes, primary Pacific)
https://marscan.com/qslnmo.jpg (operated remotely from Pt. Reyes)
https://marscan.com/qslnmq.jpg (closed)
https://marscan.com/qslnmj.jpg (closed)

and my favorite,

https://marscan.com/qslnoj.jpg (closed, Sept. 18, 2015)

Some Hams might request a SASE and/or a “Green Stamp” (a dollar bill) to cover costs. (Just looked; Postcards are now $.35!)

73 (Best Regards) DE (“this is”) AD7DR, OJ, Lopez Island
More from OJ Loughhead: September 6, 2019
So there was a telephone with (one has to assume) an undersea cable. It was confusing to me if someone meant radio-“telephone.” “Radio” not exactly catching on like lightning with the ultra-conservative Ship Captains at the time. (They fought electricity tooth and nail also.) Any signs of a map – where on Patos and Orcas? Too bad about missing pages… The troubles with the first Atlantic telegraph cable led to Marconi’s “wireless” and a US-only consortium (with lots of political “help”) called “RCA” taking over Marconi’s US holdings after WWI. While in the US, land-base telephone cable became common. My favorite “wireless” story in the PNW is here – the Hams will love this!: httpss://www.roughradio.ca/
Race Rocks also had the first Radio Beacon in the NW. The U.S. often being a bit slow with new fangled stuff. Also, at the time, the Navy was attempting to control EVERYTHING in naval communications, including across THEIR oceans, as it largely tried to do during WWI. The US Navy classified the Lighthouse Service plans for the Radio Beacons until several years after the war. With shore-base “Radio Compasses” (Cattle Point was one) they charged for “fixes.” “Will that be debit, credit, or paypal?” The passenger ship “Alaska” out of Portland headed for Frisco ran aground on Blunt’s Reef in August 1921. (People died.) The Navy was too busy with commercial communications to give the ship a shore-based Direction Finder fix. Heads rolled. The Lighthouse Service got it’s “coastal beacon system” with shipboard direction finders which lasted until LORAN and GPS. In the first year of the Lighthouse Service system, the groundings went down by 50%! Invisible Light! I believe that the Lightship at Blunt’s Reef at the time of the “Alaska” disaster was the last Lightship to be stationed on Swiftsure station at the mouth of Juan de Fuca Strait, now named… Lightships only had numbers, but would have their primary station painted on the sides… “Swiftsure,” now in Seattle being restored.
Having figured out the Beacon antenna, the pre-WWII radio communications wire antenna is still a mystery to me. During WWII, a wire antenna went from the “pylon” near the Radio Room to the pylon on the ridge near the lookout tower, and around 1955 and the installation of the AN/URC-7 in the photos, had a wall-mounted whip. For a short period of time there was also a tower-mounted whip just before the Lighthouse was decommissioned.  And the classic wires and pylons removed. (See Historic Register photos.) (Maybe in the exhibit which I have not seen the final version.)
OJ Lougheed, AD7DR

httpss://www.google.com/search?q=blunt%27s+reef+Alaska+steamship+disaster