Alva Day's focus in this image from his 1917 Alaska trip was a set of radio transmission towers which he called "Marconi Wireless Towers". Along with the steamer lines, the wireless tied Alaska back to the rest of the country. The wireless was one of the most important inventions of this era, and it made Guglielmo Marconi a household name. This image dates just 5 years after the world learned of the sinking of the Titanic through the heroic work of its wireless operators.
Alva Day's images of Alaska all have one thing in common: lots of stumps. I suspect the deforestation didn't go very far inland, but coastal Alaska of that era was far from a pristine wilderness. Alaska wouldn't be a state for another 42 years.
I have family living in the central part of British Columbia, and the word "Telegraph" is connected with many land marks. Telegraph Hill, Telegraph Trail, etc. It all centers around the race to build the telegraph line to Alaska and then across to Russia and Europe. It came to a stop when the Undersea Route won the race.
It is an interesting history of our fast moving inventions of communication.
From telegraph wires, we moved on to "wireless" and we are still inventing.
l.e. on 3rd December 2013 @ 7:16am
Has to be S.E. Alaska. And a mess. But few stumps and primarily blowdown. Would guess they opened this area up for towers and then winter storms took care of the rest. Also doubt if towers were put up in coastal areas--probably on top of mountains. In the 60's-70's when I logged there the only old stumps I run across were from selectively cut big spruce trees that were close enough to saltwater to be felled into the water and towed to mills. They were used to build airplanes for the first world war. Thinning logging operations didn't work well in Alaska because of the storms and the fact most of the timber didn't have deep root systems like here. What was left standing blew over and was tough to log and more dangerous. Nobody liked working in blowdown. My guess is Alva Day spent his time in areas where man had already left his footprints. S.E. Alaska is a big place and there would have been plenty of places where he could have taken pictures of pristine wilderness.
Buzz on 3rd December 2013 @ 7:38am
Is that a person at the base of the tower on the right?
Ralph on 3rd December 2013 @ 8:00am
Five building at least some of them residences. Must have been a major metropolis for the time. Looks to me like there are lots of old snags in the forest. Maybe a big fire moved through the area 100ish years earlier.
Looks to be three towers in a row, maybe a directional array?
Longshot2 on 3rd December 2013 @ 3:45pm
Longshot, I don't think the multiple towers indicate a phased (directional) array. I think they suspended a conductor between the towers, so it was either a long monopole or a dipole starting at the middle tower. I strung an antenna like this in my backyard when I was a kid and thought it was cool to listen to Radio Tirana (Albania) propaganda broadcasts.
Arthur on 3rd December 2013 @ 4:50pm
I found a link to archived photos of Alaska Radio towers.
I haven't looked at all of them yet. Stopped on page 6 to read about the "sad fate of Attu's only white couple."
l.e. on 3rd December 2013 @ 5:55pm
On page 7 and 8 are photos of the Ketchikan radio towers. Since we know that Alva was in Ketchikan, I'm going to guess that is the location of his photo.
l.e. on 3rd December 2013 @ 6:12pm
Doubt if forest fires went through here. Never heard of any. Standing joke in Ketchikan area was they had two seasons. Rainy season and hunting season.
Buzz on 3rd December 2013 @ 7:19pm
Another photo and article about Ketchikan's Marconi Wireless.
Still not conclusive evidence, but this did exist when Alva Day was in Ketchikan and I have to think he would have been fascinated by it.
l.e. on 4th December 2013 @ 7:27am
L.e. The top picture in your link shows the same design towers and possibly the same cluster of building. Also the forest has a lot of snags. I would say that there is a good chance the picture in the link was taken of the same set of tower as Alva's picture.
Longshot2 on 4th December 2013 @ 9:35am