THE CALL FIRST TO HERALD THE RETURN OF THE TROOPS
Glad News Flashed by Wireless Telegraphy From Behind an Ocean-Haze Curtain.
"SHERMAN in sight." That was the message that came from the ocean yesterday to representatives of The Call. Inspired it seems by some strange mystic power a telegraph instrument at the Cliff House ticked the welcome words and dashed to the watchers on the beach the glad tidings that California's heroes had ended their long journey from the wars and were approaching the Golden Gate. The news was sent into the city and in a few minutes the streets of the town were bedlam. Cannon were booming, whistles were sounding their shrill blasts and thousands of men and women, giving expression to excitement long suppressed, cheered in an ecstasy of honest gladness. The Call had scored a double triumph. It had the honor of announcing first to the people of San Francisco the arrival of the returning heroes and in doing so it demonstrated the absolute practicability of the latest of physical marvels--wireless telegraphy. It is a matter of additional interest that the home-coming of the Californians was heralded in a test that is beyond question the most thorough and successful application of wireless ever made in the United States.
The message came from out of the depths of the sea. For days the watchers of The Call had been waiting for it. Day and night men with keen eyes and ears stood by the telegraph instrument in the basement of the Cliff House. Now and again sounds created, as far as human senses could tell, by magic power would be heard. The instrument moved by the force of some subtle influence in the air. Messages were coming through the air from the sea. A new physical miracle was happening under the very eyes of those who watched.
As the time approached for the return of the troops The Call determined to send the news ahead of all other agencies into the city. There was but one possible means to accomplish this feat and that was wireless telegraphy. Six weeks ago experiments were made in telegraphing from the dome of the Claus Spreckels building to Telegraph Hill, but with indifferent success. Local disturbances prevented accuracy and then the effort was made at the ocean beach. For five weeks expert electricians and telegraph operators labored on the strange problem and at last success was won.
Messages were sent and received at stations on the beach and then an attempt was made to telegraph over the water, to send words through the air to a determined point. Receiving instruments were placed on the yacht Lurline and the experiments began. They were in the highest degree successful. Messages were sent and received a distance of ten miles out at sea. In order that there might be no possibility of failure more sensitive instruments were secured and the watch for the Sherman began. Through the courtesy of Federal officials transmitting apparatus was placed on board the Lightship No. 70, which was anchored nine miles outside the Golden Gate. Charles M. Fisher was placed in charge and Lewis McKisick and H. J. Wolters, expert telegraphers and electricians, superintended operations at the shore end of the strange line. The receiving instruments were placed in the basement of the Cliff House.
Day after day messages were sent and received. The wireless line was working perfectly. At noon yesterday there was no longer doubt of success. During the afternoon a heavy haze settled dozen over the ocean. Gradually it grew deeper and blacker and dropped down like a great curtain over the ship. From the ocean beach the guardian ship was no longer visible, but the watchers at the Cliff House, alert, keen of ear and sharp of eye, sat at their instrument. Then, shortly after 5 o'clock, the instrument began to tick. Behind the haze curtain of the ocean the man on the lightship was sending the words, "Sherman in sight."
Time and again the message came from the sea, thrilling those that heard it and spurring them to send it in all haste into the city. For the first time on the Pacific Coast and most successfully in the United States The Call had utilized wireless telegraphy to herald the homecoming of the California Volunteers.
And after all the mystery of the message from the sea seems simple. In the sending station at the lightship was a Ruhmkorff coil, which transmitted the waves from the electric dynamos on the lightship. The Morse characters were made by the opening and closing of an ordinary telegraph key. This charged an aerial wire which was suspended eighty-two feet in a vertical direction from the topmast of the lightship. Electric waves were pulsated through the air and were received through a coherer from a similar wire suspended from the top of the Cliff House at the receiving station. This coherer actuated the Morse relay, which in turn worked the ink writing register, making the characters on the tape.