Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Reginald Fessenden

For a number of years I have known that the Outer Banks was somehow connected with the work of Reginald Fessenden. In Buxton there is the Fessenden Center, a multi-generational facility with programs  in athletics, arts, and wellness. But who was Reginal Fessenden?

I knew that Fessenden was involved with early developments in radio transmission, but I didn't know many details. So I finally did a little research.
Reginald Aubrey Fessenden was an inventor who was born in Canada in 1866. Although from Canada, Fessenden did much of his work in the United States. During his life he was granted numerous patents, but he is remembered primarily for his work in the development of radio and sonar.

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden

When he was 33 years old he designed a radio receiver, and was successful in sending radiotelegraph messages between Pittsburgh and Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. In 1900 Fessenden moved to North Carolina to work with the United States Weather Bureau.  His goal was to develop a network of coastal radio stations that could transmit weather information wirelessly, without the use of telegraph lines. On December 24, 1902, Fessenden, was able to broadcast the first intentional wireless radio signal. He played his violin and read a passage from the Bible. The message originated from Buxton, on Hatteras Island, and was received on Roanoke Island, 48 miles to the north. Reports stated that this transmissions was “very loud and plain” and as easy to understand as hearing sounds over an ordinary telephone. 

Although Fessenden is still remembered on the Outer Banks, his experimental station at Buxton no longer stands. However, I understand that the foundations for a tower used by Fessenden are still visible.

Fessenden's Station at Buxton

Among other accomplishments, Fessenden is credited with the first two-way radiotelegraphic communication across the Atlantic Ocean (in 1906). Reginald Fessenden died in 1932.

For more information about Reginald Fessenden and his connection with the Outer Banks click here

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Mrs. Godfrey's ghost who haunts the Island Inn/Odd Fellows Lodge. The story is taken from Chapter Three of my book, Digging up Uncle Evans. You can read the account here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/mrs-godfreys-ghost/.

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