It was in September 1918, 100 years ago this month, when the U.S. Navy began transmitting communications from a facility on the shores of the Severn River in Annapolis.
The Navy purchased the piece of the land in 1909 for use first as a dairy farm. From 1911 to 1917 the Navy began using part of the property as an air station
In 1918 though, Greenbury Point began it’s most important role – one that it would have for many years.
According to the U.S. Naval Academy website, “the facility, which at its height boasted 19 radio towers and both High Frequency and Very Low Frequency transmitters, served as both a communications link between the U.S. and Europe, and between the Navy and the Atlantic Fleet, including the submarine fleet. Between 1958 and 1959, the facility became home to one of the east coast transmitters for the Navy’s Communication Moon Relay project, which successfully used the Moon as a telecommunications satellite to relay radio signals to Hawaii. Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Annapolis closed in 1996 on the recommendation of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. In 1999, 16 of the 19 radio towers were demolished, with the final three being retained for historic purposes and as a navigational landmark on the Chesapeake Bay.”
For those of us that were around Annapolis when it was announced the towers would be demolished, there was a big uproar. BIG. These were landmarks – literally. Located at the confluence of the Severn and Chesapeake, the towers provided by day or night, in a time before GPS, a visual landmark to navigate by. I remember the uproar – similar to the uproar that happened when GPS replaced LORAN. Here’s an article from The Washington Post that explains what happened with the tower truce (take note of the very last quote/sentence – https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1999/04/15/preserving-radio-towers/44d2af6e-dae8-44a0-95df-43f3713d9e71/?utm_term=.7a33daab73cc
For more history on Greenbury Point, here’s a great video (it shows the demolition)-
And here’s an outstanding website with some great photos of Greenbury Point – it’s my go-to for Navy communications history, which by the way, I’m part of. Yes, I was in the Navy and worked in communications –http://www.navy-radio.com/commsta/anna.htm
The three towers remaining today as seen from downtown Annapolis –
What are your memories of Greenbury Point? Let me know in comments.