KPH Maritime Radio Receiving Station – Inverness, California - Atlas Obscura

Inverness, California

KPH Maritime Radio Receiving Station

An enchanting tunnel of cypress trees leads to an old morse code station still used today. 

One of the most stunning sights of the Bay Area is the historic KPH Radio Station, also known as Marine Coast Station KPH. To reach the station, you must first pass through a clerestory tunnel of cypress trees near the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Walking or driving through the towering trees only adds to the excitement of approaching the historic radio station, which is North America’s only surviving Morse Code coast station.

KPH began providing Morse Code telegram service to ships at sea in the early 20th century, broadcasting from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco (where the station gets its PH call sign). The 1906 earthquake forced the station to move until it was eventually acquired by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and found its home in Marin County. The Receiving Station is a classic white Art Deco structure built in 1920. The transmitters themselves, in nearby Bolinas, are a similar style.

At the time, there were dozens of stations like KPH around the United States, though KPH was one of the biggest, sometimes referred to as “the wireless giant of the Pacific.” When the station fell into disuse, land contractors were set to demolish it, including its antennas, to build condominiums. But Globe Wireless acquired the site in 1997 and it was left untouched.

In 1999, the Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS), working with the Point Reyes National Seashore, began restoring KPH to full operation. It is now maintained by former KPH employees and members of the MRHS.

Today, you can hear KPH on the air every Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and you can even visit the site on Saturdays to see the only remaining civilian coast station still in operation today.

Know Before You Go

Weekend tours and occasional events are held at the station. For more information, call 415-990-7090 or email kph@radiomarine.org.

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