United States Wireless Station, Fort Myer, Va.

Broadcasting the Navy's Greatest Hits!

The description on the back of this card is so long that there’s only about an inch of space in which to compose your message. “The United States Naval Radio Station at Radio, Virginia. Situated at the southwestern end of Fort Myer Military Reservation opposite Washington, D.C. Build by the United States Navy Department (Bureau of Steam Engineering). Land ceded to the Navy Department by the War Department. Rated power of station 100 kilowatts. Towers, one 600 feet high 150 feet square at the base, two 450 feet high 120 feet square at the base, located at angles of an isosceles triangle, large tower at the apex base of triangle 350 feet between centers of towers, perpendicular to base 350 feet. Normal range: day 2,000 miles, night 3,000 miles. Cost about $250,000.”

For extra credit, draw the triangle described.

Construction on the station began in 1910, and the postcard is almost as old. I’m sure that the average third grader of 1910 could draw a diagram of the station from the description; I’d be hesitant to put it in the hands of a high school graduate of today.

The intent of the radio station was to allow communications between Washington and the fleet commanders at sea and, to my knowledge, this is one of the first instances where the word “radio” was used to describe this type of wireless communications.

Being an old military communications man myself, I have a copy the U.S. Army Signal Corps Radio Communication Pamphlet No. 40, The Principles Underlying Radio Communication (Second Edition, revised May 24, 1921; the First Edition was published December 10, 1918). This particular pamphlet has 619 pages, including a 41-page index. In the index, under “Wireless”, it says “See Radio.”

This postcard is a WNC “Colorchrome” published by the Washington News Company, Washington, DC.

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