Olde Time Radio

Note: please click on the highlighted links included in the text for more information.

“This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 megahertz, providing time of day, standard time interval, and other related information. Inquires regarding these transmissions may be directed to the National Bureau of Standards, Time and Frequency Services Section, Boulder, Colorado 80524.”

At least this is how I remember it from over 40 years when I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in the mountains west of Denver just outside of Bergen Park. Compare this to the current version as shown in the previous post

From 1974 to 1981, I was enrolled at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado (home of the legendary Coors beer re: Smokey and the Bandit). I lived in the dorms from 1974 to 1976. In a move to establish in-state tuition and a SIGNIFICANT cost savings I needed to 1) have my parents stop claiming me on their income tax, 2) establish year-round residence in Colorado, and (most important) 3) fill out the forms and get in-state status (probably easier to do then than now). As luck would have it during my second year at Mines, my undergraduate advisor Maurice W. (Maury) Major needed someone to change the records at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory on the weekends. This provided me with some extra money. When I eventually told him of my desire to establish in-state tuition and that I needed a place to live over the summer, he suggested that I could live at the observatory and change the records every night as part of the deal … and what a deal it was. I got totally free accommodations on 75 acres of Colorado mountain land owned by Coors, continued to get paid a small stipend for changing the records, and the use of an old International Harvester to travel back and forth from Bergen Park to Golden. The Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory was part of the World Wide Standardized Seismograph Network, ostensibly set up to study the internal structure of the earth via earthquake signatures, but actually set up to monitor Soviet underground nuclear tests. For 82 pages of mind numbing detail be sure to read the World-Wide Standardized Seismograph Network: A Data Users Guide. The Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory was instrumental in proving that that the earthquakes Denver was experiencing during the 1960s were in fact caused by the pumping of chemical waste into a disposal well at the Rocky Moutain Arsenal just north of Denver.




  

Then (1989)

http://gis.utep.edu/subpages/states/documents/Colorado/bergen%20park%20ca.pdf

 
Now (2015)

I took the above photo in 2015 while in Denver attending the wedding of Jess and Brian (a story for another time). As near as I could tell, the land and structure had been sold and someone was converting it to an actual home. When I lived there the first floor contained the seismological recording equipment and the second floor (two-thirds the size of of the first floor) had room for a large “class room”, a small toilet/sink/shower room, and two small “offices” (one of which, next to the bathroom, I used as a bedroom). The other third of the upstairs area was a tar paper and gravel “sun deck” enclosed by a wooden railing.

Every evening I would go downstairs (note that the stairs were outside) and turn on the short wave radio tuned to WWV. It was part of the vertical cabinet pictured in the image below. The actual seismometers (the x-y-z pendulums), the triangular boxes, were located in a tunnel excavated into the hill behind and to the north of the building. The actual recording equipment … the drums (and galvanometers pictured below the drums) were located in room 103* as indicated in the schematic pictured above. Room 101* contained the radio and time coding equipment. Room 102*/ 102A* contained the photographic developing tanks and the drier.


https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1218/pdf/ofr2014-1218.pdf

Since each seismogram was recorded by light bouncing off of a mirror attached to a galvanometer, I had to work “by touch” in total darkness to change the paper on the drum and develop the paper with the seismic recordings. While working I usually left the radio tuned to WWV as it told me how long to leave the photographic paper in each stage of the development process. Night after night after night after night I heard “This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of … ” yada, yada, yada until it was burned into my memory as surely has the lyrics to Happy Birthday to You or Back in the USSR

One night I even tried tuning into other stations specifically trying to locate Radio Moscow. I finally gave up trying after tuning into a station where a man and a woman with obvious mid-west accents were reading questions from that week’s “mailbag”. Imagine my surprise when they proceeded to answer the question “What is the weather like there in Moscow?”

I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in Bergen Park from 1976 to 1981 with my newlywed bride, two dogs, and (very briefly) a cat. They were perhaps the happiest days of my life and I still have what I have come to call “Bergen Park Dreams”.

Don’t forget to click on the highlighted links for more information.

10 thoughts on “Olde Time Radio

  1. Fascinating! I am familiar with the area, this unit, but this is the most in depth description of the place and what happened there. Lucky you to got to live there and serve some useful purpose that helped pay your way through school! I can imagine it is the source of many pleasant dreams!

    Liked by 2 people

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