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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Jefferson City in Cole County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Willis Porter Corwin

9ABD

 
 
Willis Porter Corwin Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., January 22, 2012
1. Willis Porter Corwin Marker
Inscription.

On this site, during the night hours of January 27, 1917, eighteen year old Willis Porter Corwin received and re-transmitted three Morse Code messages, which became the first successful one-way transcontinental relay of formal message traffic in the history of American radio. Conducted as an experiment by pioneer amateur radio operators, these messages, which were originated by citizens in Los Angeles, were sent to a station in Denver which relayed them to young Corwin in Jefferson City. He in turn passed them on to a station in Albany, New York, from whence they were forwarded to their destinations in Hartford, Connecticut. He repeated the experiment in more dramatic fashion ten days later, conducting the first successful two-way transcontinental relay whereby a message was started from the east coast, relayed to the west coast, and an answer received back on the east coast within a span of eighty minutes.

Willis Corwin, Jefferson City's first-known amateur wireless operator and recognized throughout the country by the call sign, 9ABD, constructed his spark-gap transmitter, power supply, and antenna entirely by hand. His radio shack was located in an enclosure at the base of a wooden tower supporting his Marconi-style antenna at the rear of his parents' residence here at 117 E. McCarty Street. The first man from Jefferson
Willis Porter Corwin Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., January 22, 2012
2. Willis Porter Corwin Marker
Looking east toward Madison Street
City to enlist in World War I, he served with the United States Naval Reserves as Chief Electrician (Radio) in France and as a wireless operator aboard the troop ship taking him to Europe. After the war, Corwin built and installed Jefferson City's first commercial AM broadcast station, WOS, in the dome of the State Capitol for the Missouri Department of Agriculture. He later helped construct radio station KSD in St. Louis for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he did pioneering work on wire-photo transmission years before it became a reality.

Willis Porter Corwin died at the age of sixty on January 27, 1959, exactly forty-two years to the day after the historic transcontinental record, and is buried in the Jefferson City National Cemetery, nine blocks east of here.

This plaque dedicated on January 27, 2007 by the Mid-Mo Amateur Radio Club to mark the 90th anniversary of the first wireless transcontinental relay of formal message traffic.
 
Erected 2007 by Mid-Mo Amateur Radio Club.
 
Location. 38° 34.531′ N, 92° 10.367′ W. Marker is in Jefferson City, Missouri, in Cole County. Marker is on McCarty Street east of Jefferson Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 117 East McCarty Street, Jefferson City MO 65101, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
Photo of Willis Porter Corwin on Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, undated
3. Photo of Willis Porter Corwin on Marker
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Tennessee House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Exchange National Bank Building (about 400 feet away); Missouri Motor Carriers Association Building (about 500 feet away); Exchange Bank (about 500 feet away); Temple Beth El (about 700 feet away); Monroe House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Cole County World War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Site of Price Mansion (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jefferson City.
 
Also see . . .
1. Willis Porter Corwin 90th Transcontinental Relay Observance, 2007. (Submitted on January 2, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club (K0ETY). (Submitted on January 2, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Charity & Public WorkCommunicationsMan-Made FeaturesPatriots & Patriotism
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 2, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 268 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 2, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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