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CHAPTER NEWS AND HAPPENINGS


   

CELEBRATOPN OF OLD FLORODA., PIONEE SETT;E,EMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL, JUNE 11, 2016

 

Florida Chapter members were among sevral Living History demonstrators featured at this annual event. Chapter members had the old AC: RR Pierson, FL depot, now located on the grounds of the Settlement, open, and, using the antique instruments in the depot, demonstrated to visitors the art and skill of American Morse telegraphy. Visitors were encouraged to try their hand at sending their names in American Morse code, a feat which delighted many but dismayed a few. Visitors also learned of the role of the telegraph in American history and its role in the expansion of the railroad system in the United States and Canada.Among the many visitors was a school teacher from Lake County who displayed a remarkable beginner's touch at the key and who declared that she would include a section on the telegraph in future classes.


TAMPA TRAIN DAY, TAMPA (FL) UNION STATION MAY 14, 2016

 

Although AMTRAK has withdrawn its support of National Train Day, the Friends of Tampa Union Station were determined to continue the tradition of a "Train Day" event and did so with Tampa Train Day. The large number of people in attendance justified their decision. There was a large variety of train-related exhibits and demonstrations, with the model train layouts and the Florida Chapter's telegraph demonstration being among the most popular. Visitors were given the opportunity to learn how to send their names in American Morse code while learning of the role of the telegraph in the history of the United States and Canada, and its role in the development of the railroad industry in both countries.


FLORIDA CHAPTGER MORSE DAY CELEBRATION, PLANTATION, FL, APRIL 30, 2016

 

Florida Chapter members celebrated Morse Day at the Plantation (FL) Historical Museum, with assistance from museum staff and volunteers. A connection was established to the Internet and the Morse KOB "wires" so that Morse Day telegraphic greetings could be exchanged with other chapters throughout the United States and Canada. The connection also allowed Florida Chapter members who could not attend in person to participate in the activities. The many museum visitors were amazed, and delighted, to hear, and see, Morse telegraphy in actual use, albeit with an assist from modern technology. Lunch was graciously provided by Cathy Feeney for all those present. After lunch, a brief business meeting was conducted, during which Chapter officers were elected for the 2016-17 term. Those elected were Robert Feeney, President; Warren McFarland,Vice-President; and Clyde Francis, Secretary-Treasurer


SPRING FROLIC, PIONEER SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL, APRIL 23, 2016

 

The rhythm of of American Morse code coming from sounders in the old Pierson depot was a perfect counterpoint to the sound of music coming from fiddles, guitars and other musical instruments in various locations on the grounds of the Pioneer Settlement during this annual event. Florida Chapter members used the antique telegraph instruments in the former ACL RR depot to demonstrate the art and skill of American Morse telegraphy while explaining to visitors the role of the telegraph in the development of the railroads in the United States and Canada, and how that development furthered the economic growth of both countries. Visitors, both young and older, were given the opportunity to learn to send their names in American Morse code on those same antique instruments.


PIONEER FLORIDA MUSEUM AND VI9LLAGE, DADE CITY, FL, APRIL 9, 2016

 

For the second Saturday in a row, the Chapter had a presence at the PRESERVED Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Trilby Depot now located on the grounds of the Museum. This time at the request of the Museum for a special event. Although attendance was less than expected, turnout was sufficient to justify the presence of Chapter Members who explained the workings of the depot and the role of the railroads in the development of that part of the state, a role which would not have been possible without the communications provided by Morse telegraphy


SPRING FEVER IN THE GARDEN, WINTER GARDEN, FL, APRIL 9, 2016

 

After a slow start to the day, a large number of visitors found their way to the old Tavares and Gulf Railroad depot now home to the Central Florida Railroad Museum, and located in downtown Winter Garden, during this annual event. Florida Chapter members displayed and demonstrated antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment for entertainment and education of the visitors. Every visitor who wished to do so, was given an opportunity to learn how to send American Morse code, using a genuine, antique, telegraph key. Many who tried to send their name were able to do so in such a manner that Chapter members could recognize the names. A feat which never failed to surprise the younger visitors, many of whom had never even heard of electro-magnetic telegraphy


HERNANDO COUNTY MODEL TRAIN SHOW, DADE CITY, FL, APRIL 2, 2016

 

Rain had a negative impact on early attendance at the annual Hernando County Model Train show, held on the grounds of the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village, Dade City, FL, but as the day wore on, the number of visitors increased, most of whom made their way to the preserved Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Trilby, FL depot, also located on the grounds of the Museum. Florida Chapter members had the old depot open and served as both docents and demonstrators for the day for the visitors, while informing them of the critical role of Morse Telegraphy in the spread of the railroad system in North America


FLORIDA CHAPTER WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

 

The following new members joined Florida Chapter during the “Hamcation” Amateur Radio even held in Orlando, February 12-14: James F. Bishop, Maria Estolt, John M. Glassberg, Victor R. Johnson, Kevin Kalil, Vincent Kondracki, Gary Liljegren, Russel Turpin and John Zimmerman. In addition, Abram Burnett transferred his memvbership from At Laerge to Florida Chapter. Members of Florida Chapter extend a warm welcome to these new members and invitges them to join in any of the scheduled events to become acquainted with current members and to lend moral support to the partiipants. Information fegarding future events can always be found on the CALENDAR page of this website.


H.B.PLANT HISTORICAL SOCIETY MODEL TRAIN SHOW, LAKELAND, FL, MARCH 19,2016

 

The annual H. B. Plant RR Historical Society's annual model train show has for many years provided the Florida Chapter members an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the art and skill of Morse Telegraphy to the large crowd in attending, while at the same time informing those visitors of the role of telegraphy in the spread of the railroad system and the subsequent role of that system in the economic growth and development of the United States and Canada. This year's event at a new venue in Lakeland, FL, was no exception. Good attendance, a good location, and an interesting telegraph display made this another very successful event for Florida Chapter.


FLORIDA CITRUS MODEL TRAIN SOCIETY SHOW, PEMBROKE PINE, FL, FEB.27, 2016

 

Florida Chapter members had an operarting telegraph display set up at this semi-annujal model train show which always attracts a large crowd. Visitors, young and old, were given the opportunity to try their hand at sending American Morse code while they learned about the role of the telegraph in the spread of railroads in North America and its importance to that development.


QUILT SHOW, FLORIDA PIONEER MUSEUM, FLORIDA CITY, FL, FEB 20-21, 2016

 

The original Florida East Coast Railroad Station Master’s hiouse and the reconstructed FEC depot, both from Jhomestead, but now located on the grounds of the Florida Pioneer Museum, Florida City, FL, were the scene of theMuseum’s annual quilt show and the display and demonstration of antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment by Florida Chapter members. Homesterad was the last mainland station stop for the Florida East Coast Railroad before begining its “Ov erseas” run to Key West. The line, which was completed in 1912, was partially destroyed by the devastating hurricane of 1935. It was converted to the Ov erseas Highway” a few years later. The Homestead depot was destoyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and later rebuilt. One of the antique items on display was an operating 1860s Willcox Gibbs sewing machine. The Morse KOB Internet ‘wire’ was in full action, creating the sound of American Morse coming from a sounder and resonatging once again through the old depot. Chaptger members demonstrated the various instrments and equipment while informing visitors about the role of the telegraph in the development of the rail network in North America and also the history of the Florida East Coast Railroad.


CRACKER CATTLE DRIVE AND COWBOY ROUNDUP, OCALA, FL FEB 20, 2016

 

This relatgively new annualevent is held in a city park near downtown Ocala with many “couwboy” related activities to celebrateand remember Ocala’s early history as a center for rqaisihng cattle. The event culminated with a small her of cattle being driven tghrough the heart of the city, much to the delifght of the maby vistors who had never seen such a sight. Despite the competitiion, Fl;oridas Chapter members were kept busy tghroughout the day responding toe vitior questions, talking a bout the role of the telegraph in the development of the raiolroads and the cattle industry, demonstrating the art and skill of Morse telegraphy, and instgructing visitgors, especially the younger ones, on how to send their names in American Morse code on a genuine tgelegrfaph key.


HAMCATION, ORLANDO, FL FEBRUARY 12-13-14, 2016

 

Florida Chapter members assisted International MTC President James Wades at the 70th annual amateur radio “Hamcation” in Orlando, FL, although it was the first time for the Morse Telegraph Club to be represented. Antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment were displayed and demonstrated as well as a Morfse KOB set up with a news feed running a sounder. All of this generated considerable interest from the many visitors to the event, many of whom thought that International Morse Code was the original Morfse Code. Despite this misunderstanding, a cpnsiderable number of attendees signed up as new members of the Morse Telegraph Club. Among the many interesting visitors was a man who said that he was the radio operqator on the Ballard crew which locatged the sunken Titanic.


FOLK FESTIVAL, PINELLAS COUNTY HERITAGE VILLAGE, LARGO, FL JAN 30, 2016`

 

Beautiful weather brought a large turnout to the annual Folk Festival at Pinellas County's Heritage Village. Chapter member Don Andrus was kept active, serving as both the Sulpher Springs depot's docent and telegraph demonstrator. Amongst the interesting people met this day was a woman who for six years was a Chinese Morse code interceptor for the U.S. Air Force; a current Navy Signalman who knew nothing about Morse code (everything is digital now); and a recent high school ROTC graduate who was required to learn Interna tionalMorse code as part of her training. Demonstrations always bring interesting insights into the past and present state of Morse code.


FLORIDA CHRISTMAS REMEMBERED, PIONEER SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL DEC 12, 2015

 

It’s always great fun when the younger visitors to this annual event stream into the old Pierson depot, now located on the Settlement tgrounds, to prepare their Santagrams for teransmission by electromagnetic telegraph TO Santa Xclaus at NP (North Pole). Horses and unicorns were in gereat demand by little girls this year, while boys wanted ibicycles and sports equipment. Mo promises wsere made, but the Santagrams were returned to the children after being sent, as a souvenir and so that parents might learn of their children’s wishes. While in the depot, the children and their parents were able to learn about telegraphy and its historical role in railroading and the development of the country.


FLORIDA RAILROAD MUSEUM, PARRISH, FL NOV 14-15, 2015

 

On the weekend of November 14-15, Florida Chapter members participated in the annual World War II event aboard the Florida Railroad’s Von Kessenger Express on its run from Parrish to Willow through make-believe Occupied France during World War II. One chapter member played the part of an Allied Secret Agent, complete with a clandestine wireless set, while another Chapter member played the part of an officer in the dreaded secret state police, and a third Chapter member portrayed a radioman in the occupying army with an Enigman machine. During the weekend Chapter members discussed the donation and installation of a complete interactive telegraph display for the Florida Railroad Museum's new depot at Willow. The museum had planned to have some type of telegraph display and museum officers were delighted when the Florida Chapter offered to furnish and install it.


OCALI COUNTRY DAYS, OCFALA, FL NOV 10-15, 2015

 

The sound of Morse code on a sounder operated by Florida Chapter members, never fails to attract a large number of visitors, curious to see what is creating the sound and then to ask numerous questions about telegraphy. Chapter members are always ready to answer the questions and to demonstrate the instruments and equipmentr. The annual Ocali Country Days event, hosted by the Silver River Museum, a part of the Marion County School District, and held this year November 10-15, provides an ideal venue for such demonstrations. The focus of the event is on 19th Century history in Marion County, including demonstrations of occupations and crafts typical of that era. The event is exclusively for school children during the week, but is open to the general public on weekends. It never fails to draw large crowds, and this year was no exception, with attendance on Saturday being the larges in the history of the event. One of the visitors said that her mother had been the telegraph operator in their village in Cuba.


FALL JAMBOREE, PIONEER SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL NOV 7, 2015

 

The annual Fall Jamboree, held this year on November 7th, is one of the permeir events hosted by the Pioneer Settlement in Barberville, FL, drawing a huge number of visitors who come to hear the many musiciains and entertainers as well as explore the many buildings and contents which have been moved onto the grounds of the settlement. Among those buildings is the historic ACL RR depot from Pierson, FL. Florida Chapter members had the telegraph instruments in the depot activated and successfully competed with the music in attracting visitors who came through the depot in a steady stream all day. Chapter members taught many of the younger visitors how to send their name in Morse Code and explained to all of the visitors the significant role that the telegraph played in the history of the United States and Canda.


COUNTRY JUBILEE, HERITAGE VILLAGE, LARGO, FL. OCT 24, 2015

 

Florida Chapter members shared responsibilities as station agent, telegrapher, and docents at the well preserved Seaboard Air Line Rwy Sulphur Springs depot, now located on the grounds of the Pinellas County Heritage Village in Largo, FL during the Pinellas County Historical Society's annual Country Jubilee. Turn out was again heavy for this event, requiring Chapter members to perform nearly continuous telegraph demonstrations throughout the day, giving many of the younger generations the chance to experience American Morse telegraphy first hand.


BOULDER (C0) AMATEUR RADIO HAMFESTD, SEPT. 27, 2015

 

Florida Chapter member Don Andrus had his Titanic Wireless Room display set up and in operation at the annual Boulder Amateur Radio Hamfest in Longmont, Colorado Sept 27th. Since the Titanic operators used Continental code, Don took the opportunity to pass out Florida Chapter's handouts, which contain code charts of both American and Continental/International codes, with an explanation of why the Continental code came about. It is surprising how many amateur radio operators had no idea they were not using the original Morse Code. Among the many visitors was a member of the Wyoming MTC chapter. Turnout was greast and interest was high.


GOLD COAST AMATEUR RADIO CLUB, FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, JULY 28, 2015

 

Chapter member Robert Feeny displayed and demonstrated antqique telegraph equipment, connecting to the Morse KOB Internet “wire” and conversing with other Morse Telegraph Club members over the wire as he talked about the history and development of the electro-magnetic telegraph and its impact on the economy of North America and its role in the development of railroads.


PLANTATION (FL) HISTORICAL MUSEUM, JULY 11, 2015

 

Using a replica of the German Enigma cyphher machine, plus antique and replica German radio telephopne and telegraph equipment of the same period, Chapter member Robert Feeney told an attentive audience how the German cypher codes were broken by the British during World War II, and also discussed German communication practices during the war. The presentation was well recived by those present


SOUTH FLORIDA DX ASSOCIATION, FT. LAUDERDALE, FL JULY 8, 2015

 

Many members of this amateur radio club were surprised at the simplicity of “landline” telegraphy, compared to wireless, as Chapter member Robert Feeney displayed antique telegraph equipment, then connected to the Morse KOB Internet telegraph “wire.” Robert used the occasion to discuss the history of the electro-magnetic telegraph and its importance in the development of railroads, and thus the economy, of North America.


ANNUAL AMATEUR RADIO FIELD DAY, FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, 2015

 

The 2015 Amateur Radio Field Day, hosted by the Davie/Cooper City Amateur Radio Club \at Markham Park in Ft. Lauderdale, FL June 27 attracted about 30 ham operators as well as numerous visitors who came during hout the day. Both visitors and ham opertors were fascinated by the sheer simplicity and style of early Morse instruments. Florida Chapter members Robert Feeney and John Feeney explained and demonstrated the use of the electromagnetic telegraph Instruments on display, which included a Western Electric "portable resonator" box from 1920, a key and relay on board dating from the 1860s, and a late-model Vibroplex “bug’.


NATIONAL TRAIN DAY, TAMPA, FL MAY 9, 2015

 

The sound of American Morse, resonating throughout historic Tampa Union Station on National Train Day, attracted a large number of visitors to the site where Florida Chapter members had set up a telegraph circuit along with a display of antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment. Interested visitors, both young and old, were instructed jn the proper method of hand sending and then given the opportunity to try their hand at sending their own names. Several boys and girls in the 10-12 year old range showed exceptional interest and were given extra attention by chapter members. Who knows, some of them may be future MTC members? Discusions are being held between members of Friends of Tampa Union Station and Florida Chapter members concerning the establishment of a permanent, working, telegtraph office exhibit to be part of the restoration of Tampa Union Station. Funding appears to be the major hold-up at present


MORSE DAY, APRIL 25, 2015

 

Amidst a current World War II exhibi and a natural history display which included a triceratops dinosaur and an ice age era Saber Cat skeletons the sound of a telegraph sounders clicking away in American Morse could be heard as Florida Chapter members gathered at the Plantation, FL Hisotircal Society Museum to celebrate the birthday of Samuel F. B. Morse. Several chapter members who were unable to be present in person, joined in the activities over the Morse KOB Internet wires. A CW (radio) key from the WW II exhibit, along with a straight key and a bug, were set up to allow the many visitors to try their hand at sending Morse code, an activity which proved to be very popular. Throughout the day, Chapter members were kept busy demonstrating the equipment and answering questions from visitors as part of the continuing effort of the Cha[pter to educte visitors on the role of Morse telegraphy in the history of the United States and Canada. After lunch and birthday cake, provided by Cathy Feeney, a short business meeting was held to elect officers for the coming year. Robert Feeney was elected President, Don Andrus Vice-President and Clyde Francis Secretary-Treasurer. Warren McFarland was designated to continue as Webmaster for the Chapter’s website www.floridamorse.com.


PLANES, TRAINS AND BBQ, TAVARES, FL, APRIL 18, 2015

 

The planes were flying, the wood-burning steam locomotive was rolling and the BBQ was cooking, as the Florida Chapter’s mini-telegraph office was set up in the waiting room of the the city’s reproduction train station in Tavares for this annual event. Although the number of vistors seemed to be down from previous years, demonstrators were kept busy answering questions and demonstrating the art and skill of telegraphy while at the same time educating visitors on the history and role of telegraphy in the development of railroads in the U.S. and Canada, and thus in the economic development of the two countries. Chapter members Don Andrus and Warren McFarland were pleasantly, and agreeably, surprised when the International President of the Morse Telegraph Club, Jim Wades, showed up early in the day and participated in the demonstrations for most of the day. Good help is always welcome.


PIONEER DAY AND BBQ COOK-OFF, ARCADIA, FL. MARCH 21, 2015

 

The DeSoto County Historical Society's annual Pioneer Day this year celebrated the long forgotten International Ocean Telegraph Company telegraph line in Florida. The event drew a large turnout, thanks to advanced advertising. Florida Chapter members pooled their tequipment and talent to demonstrate vintage telegraph operation for the many visitors. By 1872, the Western Union connection from the TransAtlantic cable had reached Lake City in northern Fkorida. The IOTC line was constructed south from that point, through the central part of the state, including through Arcadia, to Punta Rassa, near Fort Myers. From there, the underseas cable reached Key West and Havana. Many areas of Florida still have roads names “Wire Road.” indicating the road built to construct and maintain the telegraph line, although most residents are unaware of the historic connotation. The International Ocean Telegraph Company line and undersea cable, built by British and Spanish investors, provided the only telegraph link between Europe and the islands of the Caribbean, and eventually many countries in Central and South America, for seven years until more direct cables were laid. Finally, European countries were linked telegraphically with many of their colonies in the western hemisphere


TRAIN SHOW, PLANT CITY, FL, MAR 14, 2015

 

The trains were running (model trains that is) at the annual H. B. Plant Model Railroad regional show held at the Plant City campus of the Hillsborough Community College. The Chapter had the mini-telegraph office set up, along with a display of various railroad telegraph items. Our participation in this year's event was dedicated to Tom Bjorkman, our late Chapter's president who recently became a Silent Key. The Plant City model train show was one of Tom's favorite events and was the beginning of our Chapter's long history of public telegraph demonstrations which is still going strong today. At this year's event we met a lady whose mother was the village telegraph operator in Italy, a member of the Florida Railroad Museum who would like help in installing an interactive telegraph display at their new museum buildingin Parrish, FL, and a retired Western Union engineer who told us about his work on W.U.'s once secret Cold War 'Bomb Line'; and how the W.U. time signal continued to be a negotiating point for the automotive industry unions for many years. It is the little things we learn each time we do a public demonstration that make doing them so interesting


OLD FLORIDA DAYS, NAPLES, FL, 2015

 

The annual Old Florida Days event, presented by the Collier County Museum in Naples, FL, March 7-8, afforded the opportunity for four members of the Florida Chapter to demonstrate American, International and Cable Morse to a large turnout of visitors to this outdoor event. In addition to the usual Morse presentations, the cable Morse demonstration included a dual cable telegraph key, a working cable register and a mirror galvanometer, adding further interest to the Morse story with technology seldom seen.


CRACKER CATTLE DRIVE AND COWBOY ROUNDUP, OCALA, FL, 2015

 

Huge crowds jammed Ocala’s Tuskawilla Park all day during the annual Cracker Cattle Drive and Cowboy Roundup on Feb 21st , with many of them finding their way to the telegraph instruments being oprated by members of Florida Chapter, the sound of Morse code serving as an attractant. Many of those attracted to the sound were middle school aged children. Three young boys and one young girl, not together, made multiple visits to the telegraph office, fascinated by the sight and sound, as well as the idea of telegraphy. Needless to say, these four visitors received extra attention from chapter members. Visitors such as these are what makes the demonstrations worthwhile.


CENTRAL FLORIDA RADIO EXCHANGE, 2015

 

Florida Chapter had a presence at the Central Florida Radio Exchange, a vintage radio and electronics swap meet held at an antiques center in Mt. Dora, FL, Feb 6th. The chapter was invited to participate based on the reception given at a smaller, though similar event. The Chapter's mini-telegraph office was on display and opertional, along with a display of vintage telegraph instruments. Both drew considerable attention from collectors, many of whom were amateur radio operators as well. The downside of the demonstration was that there were very few children in attendance, thus there was very little opportunity to pass along the knowledge of telegraphy to a younger generation.


ANNUAL FOLK FESTIVAL, HERITAGE VILLAGE, LARGO, FL JAN 31, 2015

 

The sound of American Morse code coming from the old Sulphur Springs depot competed successfully with the folk music coming from other locations throughout Heritage Village during this annual event. At times the depot could barely contain the steady stream of visitors which was so large that the two Florida Chapter members on hand were not able to take a lunch break. However, they were able to demonstrate the art and skill of Morse telegraphy and give an overview of the role of telegraphy and how it was used on North American railroads. Younger vistors had a chance to be a railroad “employee” for a minute or two as they 'hooped up' their first train order. Visitors of all ages had an opportunity to try their hand with a telegraph key, sending a few letters on a KOB.


FLORIDA CHRISTMAS REMEMBERED, BARVERVILLE, FL DEC 13, 2014

 

Florida Chapter members were set up in the old Pierson depot, located on the grounds of the Pioneer Settlement in Barberville to transmit Santagrams for the children attending this annual event. The children were intrigued by the sound of the telegraph and Chapter members used the opportunity to demonstrate the art and skill of telegraphy and to talk to the adults about the historical role of the telegraph in the development of North America and in business and personal communications. It was decided by Chapter participants that Santa Claus had his work cut out for him as one child requested a unicorn, while a young girl wanted a “real” flying pony, not like the ones available in stores.


SARASOTA ANTIQUE RADIO COLLECTOR’S SWAP MEET, BRADENTON, FL, NOVEMBER 2014

 

The Sarasota Antique Radio Collector's ANNUAL winter swap meet provided the venue for three Chapter members to demonstrate the art of telegraphy using the Chapter's mini-telegraph office. Augmenting this was a display of early telegraph instruments including keys, sounders, and registers. Of particular interest to the vintage radio collectors in attendance was a demonstration of Cable Morse, using a replica dual key and Cable register. At one time the telegraph linked most of the continents of the planet, much of it by undersea cables which employed Cable Morse technology.


FLORIDA RAILROAD MUSEUM, PARRISH, FL, NOVEMBER 2014

 

Three Chapter members temporarily switched over to International Morse for the World War II weekend reenactment known as Von Kessenger's Express. This annual event takes place aboard the preserved rail line operating out of the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum, Parrish, FL. Members erected a German field communications tent, complete with German operating radio equipment and a replica Enigma cipher machine. They also used a period German backpack radio and, as planned, discovered a British clandestine spy radio aboard the train. Events like these add yet another interesting aspect to the Morse story, and drew interest from the hundreds of visitors.


OCALI COUNTRY DAYS, SILVER RIVER FLORIDA STATE PARK, NOVEMBER 2014

 

For this annual event, hosted by the Silver River Museum, part of the Marion County School District, elementary age students from both public and private schools in the county, as well as home schoolers, were brought to the museum to learn about occupations and skills pertinent to Marion County history during the Civil War era and continuing on to the end of the century. An estimated 4,000 visitors were in attendance for the three School Days, with another 3.000 on the weekend, when the event was open to the general public. Chapter members were kept busy answering questions and teaching the school children how to send their names in American Morse code.


FALL JAMBOREE, PIONEER SETTLEMENT BARBERVILLE, FL NOVEMBER 2014

 

The sound of American Morse telegraph, emanating from the old ACL Pierson depot, mingled with the sound of music from all over the grounds of the Barberville Pioneer Settlement for the two days of this annual event, providing visitors with a different type of rhythm for their entertainment and edification. In addition to demonstrating the telegraph and teaching visitors how to send their names in American Morse code, Chapter members demonstrated the act of “hooping up” train orders, much to the delight of the younger visitors who were enlisted as provisional demonstrators.


FALL JUBILEE, PINELLAS COUNTY HERITAGE VILLAGE, LARGO, FL, OCTOBER 2014

 

Ideal weather brought a good turnout of visitors to this annual event, most of whom found their way to the old SAL Rwy Sulphur Springs depot now located on the grounds of Heritage Village. Chapter members had their own telegraph instruments and equipment to supplement the interactive telegraph on permanent display in the depot. The steady parade of visitors kept Chapter members busy answering both telegraph and railroad questions as well as demonstrating the art and skill of American Morse telegraphy.


MUSIC FEST, WINTER GARDEN, FL, OCT 11-12. 2014

 

Florida Chapter members set up in the Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden and used the occasion of the annual Music Fest to demonstrate telegraphy to the many visitors in attendance . The Morse KOB internet telegraph circuits were activated with the content of the several wires being transcribed and displayed on the museums large flat screen TV which was converted to a computer monitor for the day.


RIFLES, RAILS AND HISTORY, TAVARES, FL, SEPT 27-28, 2014

 

Florida Chapter members had a telegraph office set up within the newly built replica depot in downtown Tavares during this new event. The wood-burning steam locomotive, The Orange Blossom Cannnonball, provided rides for visitors of all ages in vintage equipment. At one point, the train was pressed into service to carry Civil War re-enactor soldiers to the other side of the park, where a skirmish took place between opposing forces. When the skirmish ended, the train brought the casualties back to the depot where a field aid station has been set up. There was small arms fire, cannon fire, blood (fake) and bandages. In the midst of all of that, telegraph demonstrators informed the many visitors about the role of the telegraph in the conduct of the Civil War, and in the development of the United States as a country.


PIONEER FLORIDA DAYS, DADE CITY, FL 2014

 

The old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Trilby depot was open for business on Saturdat during this annual Labor Day weekend event. Florida Chapter member Clyde Francis demonstrated the art and skill of Morse telegraphy to a steady stream of visitors throughout the day, using the historical telegraph instruments and equipment located in the depot. Visitors were full of questions regarding the role of telegraphy in railroading. Younger visitors enjoyed learning to send their names in American Morse code.


AMATEUR RADIO FIELD DAY, SUNRISE, FL, JUNE 28, 2014

 

In a first for Florida Chapter, two chapter members displayed and demonstrated telegraph instruments and equipment as well as American Morse code at the annual Amateur Radio Field Day of the Davie/Cooper City Amateur Radio Club, held June 28, 2014 at Markham Park in Sunrise, FL. Many of the amateur radio enthusiasts had never seen nor heard a working telegraph set sending American Morse code, other than possibly in one of the old Western movies, and were eager to try their “fist” in the mother tongue. Chapter members were kept busy, explaining the differences between American and International Morse code, as well as talking about the activities of the Morse Telegraph Club and soliciting new members.


NATIONAL TRAIN DAY, TAMPA UNION STATION, TAMPA, FL, MAY 10, 2014

 

Chapter members had the mini telegraph office set up in Tampa Union Station for this popular event, displaying and demonstrating telegraph instruments and equipment. It was reported that attendance at Tampa was the highest it has ever been for this event. There was a steady stream of visitors all day long, keeping chapter members busy. According to the father of one young boy, his son was fascinated by Morse code and was writing “secret” messages to his friends by printing the dots and dashes instead of the letters. Needless to say, the young man received considerable attention from Chapter members offering information and tips. Who knows, he may be a future member of MTC.


MORSE DAY CELEBRATION, WINTER GARDEN, FL, APRIL 26, 2014

 

Chapter members celebrated Morse Day at the Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden, FL with a break for lunch at a nearby restaurant. The museum’s large screen TV was converted into a computer monitor for the day so that visitors could see the translation of the telegraph conversations taking place on Morse KOB wire 11. Florida chapter members enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this activity with their fellow Morse Telegraph Club members from all over the world.


PLANES, TRAINS & BBQ, TAVARES, FL, APRIL 12, 2014

 

Two Florida Chapter members were nearly overwhelmed with attention from visitors in the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf RR depot at the town's annual Planes, Trains, & BBQ event. This was the first year the Chapter was invited to have the mini telegraph office set up in the depot serving this very popular steam train operation. The depot is a modern replica of the former Tavares & Gulf Railway depot which served Tavares for many years. Interest in the telegraph was high at this popular, combined steam train, air show, vintage car show, and BBQ contest event. Along with continuous demonstrations and answering hundreds of questions, the members had the chance to demonstrate hooping up train orders to a moving steam engine as the train arrived and departed the depot on each of its five runs that day. The T.E.&G.'s standard gauge wood burning 1907 steam engine is thought to be the only engine of that type currently in regular service in the United States. The Chapter has since donated and installed a permanent interactive telegraph display with a code generator in the depot's gift shop area, furthering the MTC's relationship with this popular tourist operation.


SPRING FEVER IN THE GARDEN, WINTER GARDEN, FL, APRIL 5 & 6, 2014

 

Large crowds were in attendance on both days of this annual event which offers arts and crafts in addition to a wide selection of plants and flowers for sale. An extra added attraction this year was the Orange Blossom CannonBall, a 1907 wood burning steam engine with vintage cars offering hourly rides to visitors. The siren call of the steam whistle acted as a magnet, drawing visitors away from the other venues to the Central Florida Railroad Museum located in the one hundred year old former Tavares and Gulf Railway depot where Chapter members displayed and demonstrated telegraph instruments and equipment similar to that which would have been in use when the depot was in active service. The Morse KOB program, and the Museum’s large screen TV used as a computer monitor, allowed visitors to see a translation of the Morse code being sent. Visitors were given the opportunity to learn to send their names in American Morse code. One woman declined the opportunity but asked that her name be sent, so that she could hear it. When the name, Mary, was sent, she immediately responded that “it has a Salsa beat.”


SPRING FROLIC, PIONEER ARTS SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL, MARCH 29-30, 2014

 

Florida Chapter members had the old Pierson, FL depot open for business during this two day annual event showcasing country style music. The rhythm of American Morse code provided a counterpoint to the music from other instruments and attracted many visitors into the depot throughout both days where many of them learned to send their names in Morse code.


HERNANDO COUNTY MODEL TRAIN SHOW, DADE CITY, FL, MARCH 22, 2014

 

Model train enthusiasts had the chance to tour the restored Trilby depot with its large, operating model train display in the former café space and also hear some American Morse at the annual Hernando County model train show in Dade City. After a slow start, visitation increased throughout the day as families enjoyed the event held at the Pioneer Village Museum. Two Chapter members were on hand for this annual event to explain and demonstrate the art and skill of American Morse.


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL BAYVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, MARCH 17. 2014

 

Fourth and fifth grade students from Ft. Lauderdale's Bayview Elementary School were treated to a history lesson about Henry Flagler and his railroad. The Broward County Main Library provided an exhibit, The Great Days of Rail Travel on the Florida East Coast Railroad. Henry Flagler and his wife Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, were portrayed by Florida Chapter members John and Cathy Feeney. After the school children were given a tour of the exhibit and a presentation on Operation Lifesaver by the Florida Citrus Model Train Society, an informative demonstration on the telegraph, Morse Code and how it was used on the railroads, was given by Chapter member Robert Feeney. All of this was repeated four times, as the students were arranged in four groups. The students and their teachers were well pleased with the demonstrations.


OLD FLORIDA DAYS FESTIVAL, NAPLES, FL, MARCH 8, 2014

 

Three Chapter members were on hand for both days of the Old Florida Days Festival held annually at the Naples History Center. The Chapter's outdoor Southern Telegraph Company set up was employed to demonstrate Morse as used during the American Civil War period. Public turnout is always good at this popular event, which features reenactors representing various eras in Florida's history. An early reproduction of a pen register was employed to provide younger visitors a paper tape souvenir of their visit, with their name's printed on the tape in American Morse code


FLORIDA CRACKER DAYS, RAINBOW SPRINGS STATE PARK, FEBRUARY 22-23, 2014

 

For the fourth consecutive year, the Florida Chapter's Southern Telegraph Company's field office was one of the main attractions at this annual event at Rainbow Springs State Park, near Dunnellon, FL. Visitors were given the opportunity to try their hand at the key, learn about the difference and reason for the two codes, and have their names printed in Morse on the tape register, giving them a souvenir of their visit. Civil War era wire tapping was demonstrated, and Oscar, the lively mechanical raccoon in the cooking pot, put a smile on many faces, young and old. (A photo of Oscar can be found in the Album section of this site.) One visitor was a young woman who was severely hearing impaired. The wire tapping demonstration involves the actual tapping of an overhead telegraph line with an earth return, as was done during the American Civil War. Using an 1860s era pocket key (reproduction) with a vintage bayonet as a ground rod and a large clip that attaches to the single, low hanging overhead telegraph line, the small sounder in the pocket key suddenly comes to life with the rhythm of the "What Hath God Wrought" American Morse message, sent from a hidden Morse code generator located at the far end of the line. The young woman was holding the pocket key as the bayonet was shoved into the ground and the lead clipped to the overhead wire. There was a look of surprise and delight on her face as the sounder came to life with the rhythm of the Morse code message and she was able to feel it through her hands.. Moments like these are among the rewards members receive from participating in these public demonstrations.


MODEL TRAIN SHOW, PLANT CITY, FL, FEB 8, 2014

 

This annual event, sponsored by the Henry B. Plant Railroad Historical Society, always attracts a large number of visitors who are interested in the role of the telegraph in the development of the railroads in North America. This year was no exception and the two Florida Chapter members on hand were kept busy all day answering questions and demonstrating the displayed telegraph equipment. One visitor was a member of the board of directors of the organization restoring Tampa (FL) Union Station who asked the chapter to provide an interactive telegraph display in the historic railroad display now under construction.


CIVIL WAR HERITAGE DAYS, KEY WEST, FL, FEB 8, 2014

 

This annual event, held at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West always draws a large number of Civil War re-enactors and an even larger number of spectators. Florida Chapter members John, Robert and Cathy Feeney were among the re-enactors, portraying members of the U. S. Military Telegraph Corps and demonstrating Civil War telegraphy


FLORIDA FARM FESTIVAL, PIONEER FLORIDA MUSEUM, DADE CITY, FL, FEB 1, 2014

 

Two Florida Chapter members were in the old Trilby depot, located on the grounds of the Pioneer Florida Museum for this annual event. The Trilby depot was the first of several in which the chapter has installed an interactive Morse telegraph display which allows visitors to try their hand at sending Morse code. A bit of excitement was added to the day when a two horse team broke loose from their load and their handler and ran full speed through the watching crowd. Fortunately, the horses were caught before anyone was injured. An interesting visitor was a retired telegrapher from the British Eastern Cable and Telegraph Company, the system that enabled the British to maintain contact with their distant colonies for many years. He had been a “two key” operator, one for dots the other for dashes, at several posts in distant parts of the world.


MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY AND SCIENCE, FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, JAN 26, 2014

 

Florida Chapter members John, Robert and Cathy Feeney set up a display of a typical railroad telegraph office of the early 1900s at the Museum, in conjunction with the model train exhibit of that same era set up by the Florida Citrus Model Train Society. Chapter members were appropriately dressed for the time period and were kept busy all day, demonstrating the telegraph equipment and answering questions regarding the role of the telegraph in railroading in the early 1900s


PINELLAS FOLK FESTIVAL, HERITAGE VILLAGE, LARGO, FL, JAN 25, 2014

 

The annual Folk Festival held at the Pinellas County Historical Society's Heritage Village in Largo provided another excellent venue, in this case the restored Sulphur Springs Depot, for demonstrating the American Morse telegraph. Both weather and attendance were excellent and many visitors had the opportunity to try their hand at the key of the newly installed interactive Morse telegraph display and learn more about the history and significance of the telegraph and its use on the railroads of North America


SAVE OUR HISTORY MILITARY ANTIQUE SHOW, POMPANO BEACH, FL, JAN 10-12, 2014

 

Florida Chapter members John and Robert Feeney portrayed U. S. Signal Corps members from World War I during this sem-annual event, demonstrating communication devices from that era, including both land-line telegraph and wireless telegraphy


FLORIDA CHRISTMAS REMEMBERED, PIONEER ARTS SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL, DECEMBER 14, 2013

 

The old Pierson, FL depot, now on the grounds of the Pioneer Arts Settlement, was the hub of activity during this annual event as Florida Chapter members transmitted “Santagrams” in which the younger visitors had expressed their Christmas wishes to Santa. Some of the wishes would seem to have put Santa to the test: One young boy asked Santa to bring him a brother his own age, while a little girl asked for “a baby doll and a stick of salami.” In between the Santagrams, chapter members demonstrated telegraph instruments of the type which would have been in the depot when it was in active service and discussed how those instruments would have been used.


FLORAL CITY, FL HERITAGE DAYS, DECEMBER 7, 2013

 

Florida Chapter members had antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment on display at this annual event celebrating the history and heritage of the community. Railroads and phosphate mines were an integral part of the community’s heritage. Chapter members, demonstrating the telegraph instruments, discussed the role of the telegraph in the development of railroads and in the commercial growth of the phosphate industry.


100TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE TAVARES & GULF RAILROAD DEPOT, WINTER GARDEN, FL, NOV 23, 2013

 

The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the T&G Depot on Saturday, Nov 23, 2013. The event was marked by a special ceremony with speeches by local dignataries and the unveiling of a plaque containing the history of the building. The depot is now owned by the Heritage Foundation, but is occupied by the Central Florida Railroad Museum which is operated by the Central Florida Railroad Historical Society. It is also the site of the annual Morse Day meeting of the Florida Chapter of the Morse Telegraph Club. Florida Chapter members were on hand to display and demonstrate antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment, and, with a nod to more modern technology, used the museum’s 52 inch flat screen television as a computer monitor to display the text version of the Civil War news wire which was heard on Morse KOB wire 112. There was a steady stream of visitors throughout the day who came to admire the old building but were intrigued by the news wire, as well as by the other special demonstrations set up for the day.


FLORIDA RAILROAD MUSEUM, PARRISH, FL, NOVEMBER 16-17, 2013

 

The Florida Railroad Museum provides themed train rides for visitors to the museum. In a different twist, the theme for the weekend was World War II, with the train transformed into a train operating from Occupied France enroute Berlin, complete with spies, saboteurs, black marketers, Gestapo and many others. Florida chapter members set up a German Field Communications site, with WW II type telegraph equipment and a replica Enigma code machine. Another chapter member portrayed an Allied spy, masquerading as a German businessman with a clandestine radio. International Morse code displaced American Morse code for this event, but Morse was part of the event.


OCALI COUNTRY DAYS, SILVER RIVER STATE PARK, OCALA, FL NOV 6-10, 2013

 

This annual event always attracts a large number of visitors. During the three days of School Days, 3979 students from county public and private schools, plus Home Schoolers were in attendance, with an additional 4127 visitors on the weekend, which was open to the General Public. These visitors could see a Seminole Indian family set up in a traditional camp, a blacksmith in action, a cooper making barrels, weavers, candlemakers, Civil War reenactors, including a cannon firing at regular intervals, and, of course, Morse telegraphers demonstrating the art and skill of sending American Morse code. Several of the students remembered what they had learned about Morse telegraphy from last year.


FALL JAMBOREE, PIONEER ARTS SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL NOV 2-3, 2013

 

The combination of music and other attractions brought out huge crowds on both days of this annual event, even though it rained during much of the day on Saturday. The telegraph instruments in the old Pierson depot were active for both days, with a steady stream of visitors passing through the depot, drawn by the sound of American Morse code. Several of the visitors were musicians,waiting their turn to perform, who appreciated the rhythm of Morse code on a sounder


STUART AIR SHOW, STUART, FL, NOVEMBER 2, 2013

 

Florida Chapter members displayed and demonstrated World War I and II, U.S. Army Signal Corps equipment during this event in which they reenacted the part of Signal Corp members


FALL JUBILEE, HERITAGE VILLAGE, LARGO, FL, OCT 26, 2013

 

Four members of Florida Chapter brought the old Sulphur Springs depot to life during this annual event, displaying and demonstrating telegraph equipment. A telegraph line was set up between the depot and a spot under a shady tree and sokuvenir telegrams for visitors were sent back and forth throughout the day, with many visitors taking advantage of the opportunity to receive a modern day telegram. The event was well attended and a steady stream of visitors kept the chapter members busy.


ORLANDO-OCOEE HOME SCHOOL CO-OP DEMONSTRATION, OCT 15, 2013

 

The Florida Chapter’s website once again provided a means for interested viewers to obtain help in learning more about Morse telegraphy. A home-school co-op in Orlando asked the site’s webmaster if it would be possible to have someone visit the co-op where middle school students were studying that period of time in American History when the telegraph became the preeminent means of communication. A volunteer was found who spent about an hour with the class, talking about the role of telegraphy in the development of the United States, and ending with a demonstration which included allowing each student the opportunity to send their name in American Morse Code. Every student earned a Certificate of Accomplishment for doing just that. The teacher stated that she believed that it was one lesson the students would not forget.


WINTER GARDEN (FL) MUSIC FEST, 2013

 

Florida Chapter member Warren McFarland had the sound of Morse code reverberating throughout the old T&G Railroad depot on Saturday and Sunday of this three day annual event. The old depot is now a railroad museum, operated by the Central Florida Railroad Historical Society, and many of the visitors to the music fest took a break from the music to wander through the museum where they had the opportunity to see Morse KOB in action, displaying the Civil War era press traffic on the 55 inch flat screen TV turned into a computer monitor for the event. There was a steady stream of visitors throughout both days.


POMPANO BEACH, FL SAVE OUR HISTORY, Sept 14-15, 2013

 

Florida Chapter members displayed and demonstrated World War One U. S. Army Signal Corps equipment during this annual event.


PIONEER FLORIDA DAYS, 2013, DADE CITY, FL

 

Florida Chapter members Tom Bjorkman and Clyde Francis had a busy day on Saturday of the Labor Day weekend as a steady stream of visitors, attracted by the sound of live Morse telegraphy, found their way through the old Trilby Depot, located on the grounds of the Pioneer Florida Museum, Dade City, FL. Kids of all ages were interested in learning to send their names in Morse code and to learn the importance of the telegraph in the operation of railroads and in the development of America.


NATIONAL TRAIN DAY, TAMPA UNION STATION, 2013

 

This annual event continues to draw large crowds to Tampa Union Station, where many activities are scheduled, including live entertainment and a walk-through of an Amtrak train. Florida Chapter members set up a display and demonstration of Morse telegraph instruments and equipment which attracted a steady stream of visitors, starting well before the scheduled starting time and lasting until closing time. One visitor made an unexpected contribution. He had a Model 1914 U.S.Army Signal Corps Service Buzzer Set, which he donated to the Florida Chapter, because he wanted to make sure that it did not get thrown away after he died. Buzzer sets, which served as both telephone and telegraph instruments, were used for communications in the trenches of World War I. The Chapter expects to restore the unit to operating condition and then use it in future demonstrations.


MORSE CODE STILL USEFUL TODAY

 

When Kirkland's Tania Finlayson, communicates, what you hear is a series of beeps. "I have cerebral palsy, which occurred at birth. My disability makes it hard for me to control my body movements. I have always been non-verbal." Those words came out of a speaker, in a woman's computerized voice, attached to her wheelchair. Tania tilts her head back and forth to trigger a couple of devices that allow her to use Morse Code to communicate. The Morse Code is translated to type on a screen in front of her, and then the words come out of a speaker. She started using Morse Code when she was 11 or 12 and it changed her life. She could finally communicate. "My mom did not dress me in plaid anymore. I could tell on my brother. And I finally had the chance to annoy my dad with question after question about the world." "Ken (her husband) says Tania designed her Morse Code translator herself, despite having a degree in recreation, not engineering, and she now markets the product to others with physical constraints. "

 From a story on KIRO Radio, Seattle, WA. To read the full story and to see a photo of Tania, go to: http://mynorthwest.com/874/2269230/A-Spokane-Dash-For-Puppy-Cash-A-Kirkland-Woman-with-Cerebral-Palsy-Wants-to-Help-the-Blind

In the photo, a paddle is seen on the left side of Tania's head. There is a second paddle on the other side of her head, not visible in the photo. She makes Morse code dots by moving one paddle with her head and makes dashes by moving the other paddle with her head. It is not very fast, probably no more than five to ten words per minute, but it allows her to communicate. Dr. Thomas King, Professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Wisconsin, at Eau Claire, WI, has written a textbook Modern Morse Code in Rehabilitation and Education (available at Amazon for $148.00) and has been active in assisting manufacturers in developing Morse-input communication programs and devices for the disabled. Computers can be adapted so that almost any small movement a person is capable of doing-- such as moving the eyes, blowing with the lips, or using one small finger, can produce Morse code. He and Debra King, Outreach Program Manager at the university, were awarded a New Freedom Award in 2003 by the Department of Labor. The award is given to those who make significant contributions towards assisting those with disabilities.


CASEY JONES DAY, LAKEVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, APOPKA, FL 2013

 

For the third year, the Florida Chapter was invited to participate in this annual event, held this year April 29-May 3, which is designed to be a fun break for students after the rigors of state mandated testing, but at the same time, provide an educational experience. The railroad theme is used because of the school’s location, between two railroads within a couple of blocks in two directions. The school has a donated caboose near the entrance to the school grounds and a set of highway crossing signals stand tall in the lobby of the administration office. Chapter member Warren McFarland was set up in a vacant classroom and over the course of the day, eleven different classes were brought into the classroom where they learned a little bit about the history of the telegraph and its role in the development of the railroads. Questions were asked, answers were given, Morse codes were demonstrated and those who wished were given the opportunity to try to send Morse code with a telegraph key. Most gratifying was the fact that several students remembered information that they had learned a year earlier.


MORSE DAY CELEBRATION - APRIL 27, 2013

 

Florida Chapter (FX) celebrated this annual occasion at the Central Florida Railroad Museum, Winter Garden, FL with a display of antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment for the benefit of the many visitors.  The Orlando Sentinel had featured the celebration as the “Spotlight Event” of the weekend, resulting in a larger than usual number of visitors for the day.  Very early on, two teachers showed up with a group of their students who were preparing to study about the impact of telegraphy on the development of the United States, followed by a visitor from Kentucky who had seen the announcement in the newspaper.  The Morse KOB program was activated and the museum’s large screen TV was converted to a computer monitor for the day, so that visitors could follow the telegraphic exchanges between the various chapters, individual members and interested participants from all over the world.
    After lunch at a nearby restaurant, chapter members returned to the museum where they viewed the segment from the CBS TV show, Sunday Morning, about the Morse Telegraph Club, followed by a short business meeting where Tom Bjorkman, President, Robert Feeney, Vice-President and Clyde Francis, Secretary-Treasurer were all re-elected to those chapter offices.  Then it was back to demonstrating and explaining for the balance of the day.
    According to Les Kerr, the following offices connected to the MorseKOB server during the Morse Day Celebration:

AK - Maurie - Auckland NZ
BX -Leo (Beechworth Aust)
CS-Carman,  Riverview NB Canada
FB (Ed in Fairbanks, Alaska)
NY-Gil-Moncton NB             
FX Florida chapter-Warren and Tom
HD Hobbs Depot Noblesville IN
SH GARRY WW9GT Sharpsville IN
HM    ( Garry - Homer AK )   
DS - Wabash Depot, Ferguson, MO
RI - Roger, Richmond, IN
System test, AC
WY - JW ASLRRA Atlanta
PO PAT   PEKIN INDIANA
Evergreen Chapter, Fife WA Meeting (monitoring)
CN - Don - Topeka, Ks
VE - J. Chris Hausler - Henrietta, NY
DK Line 1
DK Line 2
DK line 3
SR- Bill-Jersey Shore Jct, PA.
VX  John Scanlon MAPLE GLEN PA
MV Joe, Wichita Ks (listening)
KE, Keith - Freeport, IL
TY, Tom Curtola, Toronto – Ontario
YX Harold Richmond Hill On


RIVER DAY, LUMMUS PARK, MIAMI, FL, APRIL 6, 2013

 

This annual one-day, family oriented, event is designed to showcase the Miami River and emphasize its continued importance as a recreational area and as a continuing part of commercial transportation. The Wagner Home, a log cabin built in the 1850s, and the oldest structure in Miami-Dade County, is on the grounds of the park. Chapter members Robert and John Feeney had an operating telegraph position set up on the porch of the Wagner Home, with a wire running to a building in the former slave quarters where another telegraph position was set up. Telegraph messages were sent between the two positions, allowing visitors to observe the method of communication in use before the invention of the telephone, computers and all of the other means of communications that came with those inventions.


NATIONAL HISTORY DAY, PORT ST. LUCIE, FL HIGH SCHOOL, APRIL 4, 2013

 

Chapter member Warren McFarland was the guest in Ms Bator’s American History class at Port St. Lucie High School on April 4th where students were involved in preparing essays for entry into a National History Day competition. Several students had chosen the invention of the electro-magnetic telegraph and its impact on the development of the United States as the subject for their papers. None of the students had ever heard or seen telegraph instruments before the demonstration, resulting in many probing questions and a lively discussion which lasted more than thirty minutes past the end of the class. Since it was the last class of the day, that would seem to indicate a high level of interest by the students.


MODEL TRAIN SHOW, DADE CITY, FL, MARCH 23, 2013

 

The annual model train show, held at the Pioneer Florida Museum, in Dade City, FL, provided a steady flow of visitors to the old Trilby depot, located on the grounds of the museum. Chapter members Clyde Francis and Don Andrus were kept busy all day, explaining the history of the old depot, demonstrating the telegraph instruments, answering questions about the old steam locomotive outside, and giving impromptu “train order hooping up” lessons to aspiring young railroaders, and their parents. All in all, a very satisfying day and well worth the time and effort of chapter members.


OLD FLORIDA FESTIVAL, COLLIER COUNTY MUSEUM, NAPLES, FL, MARCH 9-10, 2013

 

This annual living history festival stretches from the time of the Spanish conquistadors five hundred years ago, through the events of World War II. Florida Chapter members concentrate their efforts on the Civil War era. Members John Feeney and Buck Buckley set up the Southern Telegraph Company field office and demonstrated the use of telegraph equipment and the method of wiretapping used during the Civil War. Children were delighted to attempt to send their names in American Morse Code. In addition to his duties as the default trouble shooter and technical advisor for the telegraph equipment, Chapter Member Robert Feeney transforms himself into a mid-1800s surgeon, complete with medical instruments from that time. Not to be outdone, Cathy Feeney and Karon Buckley set up an adjacent display of Civil War era ladies’ fashions, including all the fixings for high tea. The event is a major activity of the Collier County Museum and is always well-attended.


CRACKER DAYS, RAINBOW SPRINGS, FL STATE PARK, FEB 23-24, 2013

 

This was the second time that Florida Chapter members have participated in this annual event and it provided an outstanding opportunity for members to interact with the public, explaining and demonstrating American Morse telegraphy. Visitors were encourage to try their hand at sending a few letters or their own names in American Morse code. Park and event officials declared the demonstration the most interesting of the event, an opinion that was also expressed by many of the visitors. The hands-on experience of visitors of all ages made helped make them aware that the telegraph is more than just a word in the history books. An added benefit was that it took place in an area of outstanding natural beauty overlooking the source of the pristine, crystal clear, Rainbow River. As outdoor events go, it doesn't get any better.


FLORIDA FRONTIER DAYS, PORT CHARLOTTE, FL, FEB 22 & 23, 2013

 

This invitation only living history festival. held by the Charlotte County Historical Society, was a new event for Florida Chapter. Based on the experience of Chapter members Robert and John Feeney, it is hoped that the Chapter will be invited for a return next year. The Southern Telegraph Company field office was established, only a few yards from the beach, an ideal location. Antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment were on display and demonstrated. The wire tapping demonsration continues to be a crowd pleaser, for all ages. Approximately 700 school children passed through the exhibit on the Friday school day. The history of the telegraph and an explanation of its role in the conduct of the War Between the States was a feature during the school day. Cathy Feeney, wife of John and mother of Robert, had an adjacent display of women’s clothing and artifacts of the Civil War era, which drew considerable attention.


PLANT CITY MODEL TRAIN SHOW, FEBRUARY 9, 2013

 

This event, held annually at the Trinkle Center on the Plant City campus of the Hillsborough County Community College, provides an excellent opportunity for Florida Chapter members to demonstrate the art and science of telegraphy to the many visitors, using the mini-telegraph office and other antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment. Chapter members Tom Bjorkman, Clyde Francis and Don Andrus also used the event to educate visitors on the importance of the role that the telegraph played, not only in the development of the American railroad industry, but in technological development in the United States and the rest of the world.


CIVIL WAR HERITAGE DAYS, FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR, KEY WEST, FL.

 

Chapter members Robert and John Feeney had the replica U. S. Military Telegraph Corps field office set up inside Ft. Taylor during this three day annual event, Feb. 8, 9 & 10, 2013. Demonstrations of how the pocket relay was used during the Civil War was the favorite of the many visitors. Telegraph keys and sounders, operated by replica batteries of the period were another popular demonstration. The Friday school day saw about 250 children come through the fort. On the two public days, there was a variety of visitors, some cruise ship passengers from ships in port, some tourists and some local residents. Fort Taylor was one of the few forts in Florida which remained under Union control throughout the entire Civil War.


FLORIDA FARM FESTIVAL, PIONEER FLORIDA MUSEUM, DADE CITY, FL, FEBRURY 2, 2013

 

While a groundhog named Phil was predicting an early spring in Pennsylvania this day, Chapter members staffed the Trilby Depot for the combined Farm Festival/Draft Horse Competition, Quilt and Craft Show at the Hernando County Pioneer Florida Museum. Fine weather brought a greater than expected turnout to this annual event, once again making it well worth the Florida Chapter's participation in bringing the old depot's telegraph back to life for the day.


PINELLAS COUNTY FOLK FESTIVAL, LARGO, FL, 2013

 

The sound of American Morse Code emanating from the old Sulphur Springs depot, on the grounds of Pinellas County’s Heritage Village in Largo, competed successfully with the local sounds of the area’s premier folk musicians, as well as the more distant Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa. Excellent pre-event news coverage of the activities and outstanding weather may have contributed to that success. The three chapter members on hand were kept busy all day, responding to questions from the steady stream of visitors and demonstrating the restored telegraph instruments and equipment in the depot.


FLORIDA CHRISTMAS REMEMBERED, BARBERVILLE, FL 2012

 

Santa Claus was roaming the grounds of the Pioneer Arts Settlement at Barberville during this annual event, while Florida Chapter members Tom Bjorkman, Don Andrus and Warren McFarland were busy in the old Pierson depot and Huntington Post Office sending and receiving SantaGrams for the younger visitors. SantaGrams were quite popular, with many of the senders hunting the roaming Santa Claus to show him their souvenir copy. Meanwhile, other visitors to the depot and post office were interested in learning more about the history of Morse telegraphy.


FLORAL CITY, FL HERITAGE DAYS, 2012

 

The Floral City Historic District was filled with demonstrators and docents wearing costumes appropriate to the 1890s, during this annual event, celebrating the “Phosphate Boom” of that era. Florida Chapter members Don Andrus and Warren McFarland, had the mini-telegraph office set up in the Heritage Museum, where it attracted considerable attention all day long. The Chapter has already been invited to participate in this event next year.


OCALI COUNTRY CRACKER DAYS, SILVER RIVER STATE PARK, OCALA, FL 2012

 

This year’s annual event was designed to emphasize the 500 year history of horses in Florida and there were plenty of Florida Cracker horses in evidence. However, the traditional 19th Century emphasis also continued, with a Cracker farm, complete with house and animals, sugar cane boiling for syrup, candle making, barrel making, blacksmithing, Union and Confederate reeanactors, and, of course, Morse telegraphers as well as many other occupations. Approximately 5000 school children visited the Museum Tuesday through Friday, November 6-9, 2012, with an additional 2,000 general public visitors on Saturday and Sunday. A telegraph circuit was set up for the week-end so that souvenir telegrams could be sent for interested visitors, of whom there were many. One young girl left the telegraph demonstration after asking many questions, declaring that she was going to go home and work to become a “telegraph reader,” and an older woman was observed taking notes as the telegraph demonstration took place. Chapter member Warren McFarland was on hand for the entire event and was joined by members Tom Bjorkman, Don Andrus and Clyde Francis for the weekend.


PLANTATION HISTORICAL MUSEUM, PLANTATION, FL 2012

 

Chapter members Robert and John Feeney have developed a fruitful association with the Plantation Hitorica Museum in Plantation, FL. Earlier this year, the two members constructed a replica of the wireless room of the Titanic, including replica instruments constructed by Robert Feeney. Later, as part of an exhibit celebrating the centennial of the completion of Henry Flagler’s overseas railroad to Key West, they constructed a replica of a turn-of-the-century railroad office, including a telegraph operator’s position, complete with telegraph instruments, replica wet-cell batteries, original railroad documents and a facsimile of the weather report which was telegraphed to all offices along the overseas extension, warning of the impending hurricane of Labor Day, 1935. That hurricane was responsible for more than 400 deaths and demolished large portions of the railroad. The effects of the hurricane ended Flagler’s overseas railroad venture. (See album page of this site for photos of the two displays.)


FALL COUNTRY JAMBOREE, PIONEER ARTS SETTLEMENT, BARBERVILLE, FL 2012

 

This annual event is themed around the sound of music, which was prevalent all over the grounds and included the musical sound of American Morse Code emanating from the old Pierson depot, which was open and staffed by FX Chapter Members Tom Bjorkman, Don Andrus and Warren McFarland on November 3 and 4, 2012. Several visitors made the connection between the rhythmic sound of Morse code and the musical events. Chapter members were kept busy answering questions from interested visitors and demonstrating the antique telegraph equipment in the depot


FALL COUNTY JUBILEE, LARGO, FL 2012

 

Chapter member Clyde Francis had the old Seaboard Air Line Sulphur Springs depot open for business, Saturday, October 27th at the Heritage Village in Largo, FL during the annual Fall County Jubilee. The weather was good and the crowd was large with a high proportion of children. The sound of Morse code emanating from the depot attracted many of the visitors in to see what was going on. Several of them were extremely interested, including one potential new member.


PINELLAS COUNTY (FL) CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION 2012

 

The sound of American Morse telegraph was heard again in the old Seaboard Air Line Railway Sulphur Springs, FL depot on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15th and 16th, as Florida Chapter members Clyde Francis, L. A. Bailey and Warren McFarland demonstrated antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment to the steady stream of visitors on both days. The depot is now located on the grounds of the Pinellas County Heritage Village in Largo, FL.


MARION COUNTY (FL) SUMMER CHILDREN'S PROGRAM

 

The emphasis was on Transportation and Communication during this week of the summer program, held at the Brick City Adventure Park, in Ocala, FL. The children learned about the history of telegraphy and its importance to transportation and in the commercial and industrial development of the United States. Each child was then given an opportunity to send his or her name in American Morse. Those who succeeded in sending their names so that they could be “read” by Chapter member Warren McFarland, the telegrapher on duty, were given Certificates of Accomplishment, indicating that they had done so. Several showed promise as telegraphers.


MORSE DAY, 2012

 

Chapter members gathered at the Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden, FL on April 28th for the annual celebration of Morse Day. An Internet connection was set up and various chapter members exchanged telegraphic greetings with members of other chapters on this Internet wire. Non-telegrapher chapter members and museum visitors were able to follow the telegraphic communications on the museums large screen TV which had been co-opted as a computer monitor. Chapter member Don Andrus brought his hand-crafted replica of the wireless telegraph key used on the Titanic, along with the mini replica Titanic radio shack which he had constructed. This display drew much attention from both chapter members and museum visitors. (See the Album section of this website for photos.) After a companionable lunch at a nearby restaurant, a short business meeting was held, during which Tom Bjorkman was elected chapter president, Robert Feeney chapter vice-president and Clyde Francis chapter Secretary-Treasurer for the coming year. Cathy Feeney outdid herself this year by baking two birthday cakes for Samuel Morse instead of the usual one. The proverbial icing on the cake for the chapter was provided by John Wood, a former telegrapher on the Soo Line RR visiting the museum, who joined MTC on the spot.


JACKSONVILLE, FL PUBLIC LIBRARY, 2012

 

In an unusual venue, Florida Chapter particpated in a series of demonstrations in conjunction with the Jacksonville, FL Public Library’s presentation of an American Library Association traveling exhibit on “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War.” Jacksonville librarians, aware of the important role of the telegraph during the Civil War, contacted Florida Chapter through the chapter’s website, seeking assistance to augment the traveling exhibit. Chapter members loaned replica telegraph instruments along with copies of Civil War telegrams from Robert E. Lee, and chapter member Warren McFarland presented live demonstrations on January 4, January 20, February 1 and February 17, to coincide with library activities, plus he presented an impromptu demonstration in a moving elevator in response to interest from other passengers. Although attendance was not at the level of most demonstrations, the Chapter feels that this was in important event in pursuing the goal of keeping alive the knowledge and history of American Morse telegraphy.


SAMUEL MORSE PLAQUE RETURNED TO CEMETERY

 

The Morse Telegraph Club placed a bronze plaque on the Samuel Morse monument in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. After the original plaque was stolen, the cemetery replaced it with a substitute. Recently, the original showed up on e-Bay. International President James Wades contacted the seller and was successful in obtaining the return of the plaque to the cemetery to be placed back on the monument. Read more about it at: http://www.green-wood.com/2012/bronze-plaque-heading-home/


LEVY COUNTY (FL) RAILROAD DAY, MARCH 19, 2011

 

Levy County (FL) Railroad Day, March 19th, was in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Florida Railroad across Levy County to Cedar Key, FL. Various activities took place in the communities of Bronson, Otter Creek and two locations in Cedar Key. FX Chapter members Tom Bjorkman and Warren McFarland were located in Bronson and Cedar Key, respectively, 35 miles apart, with antique and replica telegraph instruments and equipment for demonstrations, and with access to a toll-free telephone line between the two sites. Modems were connected at both sites and souvenir telegrams transmitted for interested visitors. There was a high level of interest in the telegraph demonstrations, with many visitors spending considerable time, watching and asking questions. See photos of various activities at www.levycountyhistoricalsociety.com


MORSE CLUB TAPS INTO PAST

 

By RONNIE BLAIR rblair@tampatrib.com Tampa (FL) Tribune, Published: Sep 5, 2005


 

DADE CITY - The tapping sounds emanating from the telegraph instruments in the old Trilby Depot provide a time-machine experience for Tom Bjorkman and Warren McFarland. The two men worked - long, long ago, they say - as telegraphers for railroad companies. Bjorkman, 67, of Brooksville, was with the Erie Railroad. McFarland, 82, of Orlando, was with the Atlantic Coastline Railroad. Once upon a time, they were go-to guys when it came to sending and receiving messages. For these two, Morse code is a second language, as simple as A, B, C. Or in this case, as simple as dot-dash, dash-dot- dot-dot, dash-dot-dash-dot. Where others hear meaningless noise, Bjorkman and McFarland hear an insistent tapping that lifts away the years and hearkens back to a time when the telegraph played a crucial role in the nation's development.


 

Bjorkman said the club is restoring the telegraph table at the depot. Work remains to be done, but progress has been made. ``We have a good working display,'' Bjorkman said. The club members, no fans of the hands-off approach, encouraged children to tap out their names in Morse code. The youngsters might as well do it for fun. None of them is likely to do it for pay, as Bjorkman and McFarland once did. ``I last did it for real in 1962,'' Bjorkman said.


 

The telegraph had a good ride, though. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in the 1840s and by the 1850s its use was widespread in the United States. McFarland and Bjorkman said that during the Civil War, the telegraph was used to keep generals updated about events on the battlefields. The military also made use of the telegraph in World War I and, to a lesser extent, in World War II, Bjorkman said. By the mid-20th century, though, as other means of communications developed, the telegraph's importance began to wane. In most places, it was phased out in the 1960s, Bjorkman said. The last land line in the United States was discontinued in 1982 at Whitehall, Mont., he said.


 

Telegraphers had seen that coming 40 years earlier. In 1942, some of them formed the Morse Telegraph Club to keep the traditions of their vocation alive. Now there are club chapters in nearly every state, including the chapter in Florida, which has 34 members. Once a year, the members pay homage to the man who made their old profession possible. On the last Saturday of each April, each chapter celebrates Morse's birthday, which was April 27, 1791. The Florida group holds its Morse birthday gala at the Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden.


 

Railroads and the telegraph were linked almost from the beginning, McFarland said. Since the railroad tracks were already there, it made sense to put in telegraph lines along the tracks. ``Then it became natural for railroad employees to become telegraph operators,'' he said.


 

One piece of equipment Bjorkman and McFarland demonstrated Sunday was an Instructograph, a device used to teach Morse code. The lessons were on yellow paper tape that was threaded through a machine. Holes punched in the paper represented the dots and dashes. The machine read those, then sent a message to a telegraph sounder and the student would try to write down the message as it was tapped out. McFarland said he never had an Instructograph. Instead, his father served the machine's role, helping him to learn Morse code. ``I learned this,'' McFarland said. ``I've never forgotten it.''     Reprinted from The Tampa (FL) Tribune.  Used by permission.


 

These days, though, the message Bjorkman, McFarland and others like them send is mainly one of remembrance. As members of the Morse Telegraph Club of Florida, they keep the torch lit for a means of communication that serves little purpose in an age of cellular telephones and e-mail. ``We just like to keep it alive a little bit longer,'' Bjorkman said. On Sunday, at the 31st annual Pioneer Days Festival, Bjorkman and McFarland demonstrated telegraph equipment to visitors who strolled through the Trilby Depot, which sits on the grounds of the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village. Morse Telegraph Club members also demonstrated the equipment Saturday, but they won't be back today as the festival concludes.


   

   

FLORIDA CHAPTER RECEIVES 2006 PRESIDENT'S AWARD

 

Morse Telegraph Club International President Lavina Shaw has announced that the Florida and Saskatoon Chapters are  recipients of the 2006 President's Award for the United States and Canada, respectively.  This award is given annually to recognize the activities of those chapters who are outstanding in forwarding the mission of the Morse Telegraph Club, which is to preserve the history and knowledge of Morse telegraphy.  Both chapters have been very active in presenting demonstrations in many different venues and in participating in various reenactments which highlight the importance of Morse telegraphy in the national history of both countries.

In presenting the awards, International President Lavina Shaw wrote: 

"To the members of the Morse Telegraph club:

                                   Florida "FX" Chapter
                                   Saskatoon "KN" Chapter

     I have decided to award two "President Awards" this year to two very well-deserving chapters.  I did this for two reasons:   First I couldn't decide which chapter deserved it more - both chapters have done a fantastic job.  You did exceedingly well with putting on Morse demonstrations, re-inactments, etc.  You have made us proud!  Secondly, I do not know whether my successor will carry on the tradition, so I thought it fitting that both chapters should be recognized.

     Thank you for helping to make the Morse Telegraph Club a great one!

73

Lavina Shaw
International President (until May 1/07)"

Speaking for all chapter members, Secretary Don Andrus wrote President Shaw:  "The Florida Chapter is very pleased to receive the President's Award.  It is most gratifying to know that our efforts have been recognized at the international level.  We also recognize that many other chapters are quite active and may in the future have their efforts rewarded.  We encourage all chapters to do whatever they can do to make sure that the knowledge of this vital step in our technological history is not forgotten by current and future generations."