In 1914, Guglielmo Marconi built a high powered wireless station in Massachusetts. The receivers were here in Chatham and the transmitters were forty miles west, in Marion. The station was paired with a station in Norway to provide wireless communication between the two continents, using Morse code. That plan was interrupted by World War I. After the war, the station was bought by RCA and, except during World War II, stayed in operation as a wireless maritime station for over seventy years until 1997.
This museum tells the story of Marconi, whose company built the station, and how the station's Morse code operators were able to communicate with ships across the world even a hundred years ago. And it tells the story of the secret role that the station played during WWII. You will also have a chance to practice Morse code and find out which is faster, Morse code or texting !
As you tour CMMC you will discover its "Untold Story".Click here to learn more about "Chatham Radio: WCC The Untold Story"
Breaking Barriers - Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII
A Special Exhibit For Summer 2017
In 1942, as the United States reeled from the attack on Pearl Harbor, trained male pilots were in short supply. Qualified pilots were needed to fight the war. The Army also was desperate for pilots to deliver newly built trainer aircraft to the flight schools in the South.
Twenty-eight experienced civilian women pilots volunteered to take those ferrying jobs. They formed the country’s first female squadron late summer 1942. Between November 1942 and December 1944, 1,074 more women were trained to fly, first in Houston, TX and then moved to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX. Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran founded the two programs (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron and Women’s Flying Training Detachment) that seventy-five years ago became the WASP.
WASP flew every aircraft in the Army Airforce’s arsenal. In addition to ferrying, they towed gunnery targets, transported equipment and non-flying personnel, and flighttested aircraft that had been repaired before the men were allowed to fly them again. For over 2 years, WASP went on to perform a wide variety of aviation-related jobs and to serve at more than 120 bases around the country, including 9 WASP serving at Otis Field - now part of Joint Base Cape Cod!
The WASP Trainees were expected to complete college level course work, including physics, math, algebra, meteorology and navigation. In addition, they needed to study airplane structure, hydraulics, engines and propellers, Morse code, electronics, communications, first aid, aerial photography, aerodynamics, military drill, and Airforce physical fitness training. By the time they graduated, WASP had each spent 560 hours in ground school and 210 hours in flight training.
Through photographs and video, this special exhibit explores their pioneering experience, paralleling the experiences of the women who served as WAVES and SPARS here in Chatham during the war.
View videos: The Titanic, Matt Tierney, and Marconi's "Marvelous Invention", Battle of the Atlantic and The Untold Story shown at frequent intervals.
Not all of our exhibits are within the walls of the museum buildings. Plan a few extra minutes to walk the reconstructed trail that marks the path of the original Marconi Antennas.
Marconi, a pioneer in wireless communication, was an inventor, scientist and businessman. Learn about his role in creating the Chatham receiving station in 1914.
Visit the two dioramas, Chatham Port Receiving Station and the South Chatham Transmitting Station—Tone Rack—Chatham Radio Timeline—Directional Antenna—Kleinschmidt—Vacuum Tube Display.
Practice Morse code at this History of Communications interactive kiosk. Encourage students and children to ask front desk for game sheets to earn a Junior Guide for Chatham Radio WCC Certificate.
The WCC Operators were wireless "Brass Pounders" and landline operators were the "Wiremen”. Visitors will experience how Ship to Shore Morse code messages were sent anywhere, from wireless to wire and back, and by WCC between ships and landline telegraph offices.
Learn more about the exciting and previously classified role of Chatham Station C during World War II - the Battle of the Atlantic — the breaking of the Enigma Cipher Machine Code - disrupting the Nazi U-Boat threat.
Chatham Navy Radio played a significant role in defeating the Germans during the World War II Battle of the Atlantic. It intercepted Enigma-encrypted wireless messages between German headquarters and its ships at sea, then passing the intercepts on to Washington, DC for decoding. In addition, as the control station for the east-coast direction-finding network, Station C directed the search for telltale radio signals that allowed enemy vessels to be located and tracked. As you arrive at the museum site, you are greeted by a reproduction of the “USN” painted shell logo that was displayed on the lawn of the ‘Administration Building’ during the war years.
Learn more about the men and women who served here. Don’t miss Chatham Radio Goes To War in the Theater.
The Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum has created a special exhibit about the Enigma Cipher Machine. The Enigma was used by the German military in WWII to encrypt its radio communications and prevent the Allies from eavesdropping on them.
During the war, the U. S. Navy stationed 300 sailors and WAVES at the Chatham Port wireless receiving station, called “Station C” by the Navy. Visitors to the museum will be greeted by a photo essay outlining the dire situation facing the Allied navies early in WWII, and the crucial role that Enigma machines played. The photo essay, “Enigma in the Battle of the Atlantic”, is projected in HD onto the gallery wall using photos, video and text to tell the story of the Enigma and the breaking of its complex code.
The exhibit will help visitors understand one of Station C’s important roles: copying encrypted code sent between U-boats at sea and the Kriegsmarine headquarters, then forwarding the message traffic by teletype to Washington, D.C. There, the messages could be decrypted - and acted upon - because the Allies had broken the Enigma code.
One of the great stories of WWII was the breaking of the Enigma code - which many had previously believed was impossible - at Bletchley Park in England. The exhibit shows how Station C’s role and the great success at Bletchley Park intersected. This may be especially interesting to visitors because of the recent success of the film The Imitation Game, a fictionalized telling of how the Enigma code was broken. Kids and adults alike are intrigued with secret codes. The exhibit includes opportunities to create and decode messages using replica Enigma devices, helping to learn in depth how the Enigma machine actually works.
There are two parts to this exhibit. On display is an authentic Nazi Enigma cipher machine, which is on loan to our museum. Because it is quite rare it is secured in a locked, transparent case for viewing. Included with the display are panels and videos describing this particular machine. It is accompanied by a pair of electronic replicas of the Enigma, which are interactive and functionally identical to the real thing. The principal difference is that the original Enigmas were entirely electromechanical, whereas each replica is implemented using modern electronics and microcomputers. Accompanying instructions describe how to use the replica Enigma. Visitors can experience using an Enigma by setting all the parameters needed to ready the replica for use. Then, one or two people can encode a message, and one or two others can simultaneously attempt to decode it. A guide will be on hand to explain and assist the visitors. Families or small groups can fully experience how the Enigma encryption / transmission / decryption process actually worked in practice.
The CMMC Amateur Radio Association operates from this room. Listen to amateur operators from many parts of the world.
In the Education Center, upgraded exhibits with “wireless today” themes include Tracking Great White Sharks, a topic of great and growing interest. How do you track a shark? Wirelessly, of course! Learn how the data captured by special tags placed on sharks finds its way to the scientists who need it. (Hint: It may not be how you think!)
The complex Automatic Identification System (AIS) used to identify and track ships at sea is fully explained through an engaging interactive presentation. Feeds from our own radio receiver and antenna are combined with live data from the AIS network to display real-time ship locations around Cape Cod.
A developing new exhibit features a drone, or Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), including how it is wirelessly controlled and its evolving - sometimes controversial - uses.