May 11 - 1908: Marconi sends messages 1,700 miles to sea from Cape Cod

2002: Aerosmith arson here
Postcard of the Marconi Wireless Station in South Wellfleet.

1908: Wireless waves to Great Britain from Cape Cod

Signals frequently crossed the Atlantic, according to Marconi secretary

On this day, the New York Times reported in 1908 that the Marconi station in Wellfleet was sending wireless messages to vessels at sea as far offshore as 1,700 miles.  In 1900, Marconi set up a high-powered transmitting station at Poldhu, on the English Coast at Cornwall. In 1901, Marconi built a wireless station at Signal Hill, Newfoundland and on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Marconi selected Cape Cod since it had been described by Henry David Thoreau as a place "where a man may stand and put all of America behind him." After passing up a location in Barnstable and being denied permission to build his wireless station near the Highland Light, Marconi settled for an eight-acre site on a high bluff in South Wellfleet. Marconi set up headquarters at the Holbrook House in Wellfleet.

The South Wellfleet station was similar to the Poldhu one with a circular series of twenty 200-foot ship's masts set back 165 feet from the edge of the bluff.

Storms blew down the aerials at Poldhu on September 17, 1901 and a Nor'easter toppled the aerials on Cape Cod on November 25th. Nevertheless, Marconi received the first transatlantic signal - the three-dot Morse code letter "S" tapped out from Poldhu on December 12th at the Newfoundland station. The aerial at Poldhu was held aloft by a canvas kite. (Read More)

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2002: Cape home of Aerosmith bassist destroyed by fire

On this day in 2002, the Cape Cod home of Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton was destroyed by a fire according to authorities. No one was in the home when the fire started just before 7 p.m.

Investigators from the Barnstable police, state fire marshal's office and the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms interviewed about 50 West Barnstable residents, and are reinterviewing them to find out who may have seen someone or something on the evening of May 11 when two fires, less than a mile apart, were discovered within 13 minutes of one another.

One fire destroyed the home of Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton on Packett Landing Road. Hamilton's home was used primarily as a seasonal residence and was under renovation at the time of the fire. The whole structure was destroyed and police said Hamilton's plans to summer on the Cape had to be changed.


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