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No Man's Land In Bayville

Somewhat creepy site was once home to a major communications facility

The old AT&T transmitter building near Good Luck Point
The old AT&T transmitter building near Good Luck Point

by Patricia A. Miller


The wooden poles that stud the tidal marshlands near Good Luck Point off Bayview Avenue and the old AT&T building would be good fodder for the television show "Life After People."

Some of the poles have toppled over, others slant at angles in the water. The towers and wires of the huge, rhombic attennas lie rusting in the marsh grass. Most of the windows in the building were shattered by vandals long ago. The rest are boarded up. The brick walls are festooned with graffiti.

Berkeley Township bought the building for a dollar years ago, during another administration, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. has said. The acres of marshlands are now part of the Edwin F. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, home to egrets, ospreys herons and even bald eagles.

But decades ago, the poles, lofty metal antennas and wires and the brick transmitter building were a major, state-of-the-art communications center on the Jersey Shore. The facilities were a high-frequency, shortwave radio transmitting station providing telephone high-seas service to ships at seas and to overseas locations under the callsign WOO, according to www.long-lines.net.

The American Telephone and Telegraph Company liked what it saw at the Berkeley site - often referred to as the Ocean Gate or Good Luck Point site - back in the 1920s.

The company was looking for locations at various points near New York for transmitting and receiving stations. AT&T bought 175 acres of the "Good Luck Tract" back in 1929. The Good Luck Point site was selected as a transmitting station and a site in Forked River as the receiving station.
 
"This location of the stations almost literally at high water mark was due to the fact that these experiments had demonstrated in a striking way the attenuation of signals travelling over an intervening trip of land between the station and the ocean," according to an article written by Fred Bunnell in 1940, now on www.mysite.verizon.net.

"The original electronic facilities installed at Ocean Gate included a 15 kW shortwave transmitter... together with two curtain antennas seventy feet high," according to an article in www.ontheshortwaves.com. "In the mid 1950s, the large array of curtain antennas was removed and replaced with a series of twenty-nine rhombic antennas."

The death knell for the Good Luck Point station was a result of additional undersea cables laid between Europe and North America and satellite communications, the article states.
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The state of the building has deteriorated since it was first closed, even before Superstorm Sandy roared in on Oct. 29, 2012, Amato has said.

Now conditions inside are probably even worse, since the building stands only 18 inches above sea level. The small Good Luck Point community around the bend was devastated by Sandy.

So for now, remnants of the communications system will remain in nature's hands, subject to wind and water and home to peregrine falcons, American bitterns and other waterfowl.


John Cobb January 27, 2014 at 03:20 AM
Any plans to demolish the building?
Mike Ehrmantraut January 27, 2014 at 06:28 AM
This stuff really is quite fascinating. Is the building open to the public? As a radio communications enthusiast, I'd love to get a look at the inside of this place. Impressive.
Paint January 27, 2014 at 07:31 AM
Good aritcal however it's just another eyesore in Berkeley but nice spin lol
Sarahsaurus Frazee January 27, 2014 at 07:57 AM
If it does get demolished I would like to see someone go in and take detailed pictures of this piece of local history. it is an eyesore but it also has a decrepit beauty to it. I bird watch here all the time so I am used to it. I enjoyed this article.
sandy bottom January 27, 2014 at 08:00 AM
restore it ,it is a land mark
Andrea Sorrentino January 27, 2014 at 08:08 AM
I didn't know the history. Interesting but it should be either retored or imploded. It looks like an abandoned tenement in the middle of a national park!
sandy bottom January 27, 2014 at 08:14 AM
if they demolish it ,wont that open the way for some dam developer
John Cobb January 27, 2014 at 09:06 AM
Not to be picky, but I noticed some errors in the above posts: Paint- "article" sandy bottom- "damn" unless you're thinking of a Hoover type Dam, also it's "won't". Over and out!
WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot January 27, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Great article! My father used to tell me the history of these antennas and what they were used for, but never with this level of details and research. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Natty Bumppo January 27, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Interesting spin by Mayor Amato, point the finger on this one but take the credit for Beachwood Plaza, which was handed to him. Either way, under Amato, it continued to sit and he has done nothing. I'm more surprised you could find Amato, but then again he probably phoned this interview in from his top secret undisclosed location.
sandy bottom January 27, 2014 at 09:26 AM
but you are being picky, maybe you should be the proof reader ,over and out !
Chief Wahoo January 27, 2014 at 10:02 AM
Amato. Varano. Lots of vowels. Both public takers. Berkeley still a dump. No difference of the red team or blue team. Taxpayers lose again.
Thomas A. Mathis January 27, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Ms. Miller thanks for a really great article about a landmark that anyone who grew up in this area has seen out there all by itself all their lives. It should be put over in the TR Patch too as anybody who ever went over the bridge to Seaside could see the complex off to the South as could anyone coming into the Toms River from Barnegat Bay.
Bernie January 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM
Anyone who wants to see alot of photos of this place, inside and out (taken in 2004), visit this site: http://www.long-lines.net/places-routes/OceanGateNJ/index.html
Robert Murdock January 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM
In September 2004, Ocean County ARES (WWW.WA2RES.com) requested from Mayor Varano, that the vacant AT&T site be preserved as a telecommunications museum. Ocean County ARES looked into spearheading the effort and did some investigation into the site. The building was turned over to Berkeley Township instead of having AT&T foot the cost of demolition. This was a great deal for AT&T – the cost would have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The building was basically doomed the day electrical power was cutoff to it. The basement of the site depended on electrical power to automatically pump down the basement with expensive 3 phase pumps/motors. The site contains a 750 KW Gas Turbine Generator to power the station in case of loss of commercial power and this backup source would have also powered the pumps. When I saw the building interior some 10 years ago, it was riddled with the carcasses of dead pigeons because most of the windows were broken. The basement was flooded to the first step from the first floor. Paint was peeling from all surfaces. Most of the expensive radio gear had been removed by AT&T, but all the cabinets, bus work, cabling and electrical power components remained. Berkeley eventually turned the building over to another radio club and Ocean County ARES helped with some of the clean-up, but I decided the building was never going to be able to be restored without tremendous amounts of funding. I lost track of any activity years ago and the site looks worse than ever. I believe there are many items at the site, which could be sold for revenue by Berkeley, such as the Gas Turbine, the copper, several thousand gallons of Kerosene (for powering the generator), etc. Bob Murdock President, Ocean County ARES
John Cobb January 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM
It appears then that we have Mr Murdock and the OC ARES to blame for the dilapidated conditions at the site. It's all well and good to wish to preserve things from the past, but to not properly plan the affordability of these projects is wrong. Great ideas now end up as an eyesore on the wetlands. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Rosemary Oughton January 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM
Let it remain for the wildlife
Puddin Tane January 27, 2014 at 01:13 PM
Make sure all the toxics are abated, then, leave it for the birds.
Mortimer Snerd January 27, 2014 at 01:18 PM
So will Amato send our under-employed public works guys there to strip the copper and other metals and get some money for the township out of this eyesore? It won't be enough for demolition, but it could be a start.
Robert Murdock January 27, 2014 at 02:55 PM
John Cobb: The building was NEVER turned over to ARES. We evaluated the condition and made the recommendation that it was way to expensive to restore. Berkeley made the decision to turn the building over to the Tesla Radio Club and that was the last of my involvement. Bob Murdock
hardesthit January 27, 2014 at 03:19 PM
Now that it's been announced here that there is copper in the bld, if the township wants it they better hurry before the dregs get it!!!
NanBed January 27, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Great information. Thanks
1stcav January 29, 2014 at 08:57 AM
Have the ( owners ) Twp. put it out to bid for removal of said : Copper and give out permits, dated with when , how and then let the twp.collect say 20 % of what's recovered buy said bidders. It Must be safe to enter, and that may be a problem...from what was in this article.

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