The Secret of Point St. George

Garcia, Newman, Wyatt, 1943

Point St. George, near Crescent City, not only has a long history, but a secret history, too. During World War II, the property housed a group of cryptographers, people who converted messages from a code to plain text, and a highly specialized direction finder radio.

It was Intercept Station T, on Radio Road. Before the cryptographers moved in during the early 1940s, the U.S. Coast Guard owned the property.

The Navy had tested a direction finder radio at the Point St. George location in March 1935 and determined that radios should be working within a year. Called a DP/DF radio, the unit was located in the building’s penthouse.

Direction finder radios are used for two reasons: helping a lost vessel figure out where it is or locating an enemy vessel by intercepting its radio signals and determining its position so it could be defended against. The Point St. George property was one of a network of nine fixed and 12 portable stations.

Its position was a fixed station. Others included Corregidor, Guam, Oahu, Adak, Alaska, Wahiawa, Hawaii, Imperial Beach, Guam and the Farralon Islands.

Their locations were classified until 1992.

Before its radio was placed in the penthouse, the cryptographers wanted it in a different location, one that was lower and closer to the land’s edge. Their first choice was denied to them because the U.S. Department of Lighthouses refused to allow the radio  on its land.

The cryptographers solved that problem by putting the unit on skids so they could easily move it off the property if someone spotted it. This unit in the redwood water tank that remains on a platform seven feet above the ground.

The 10-acres of property was owned by the McNamara family. The Navy wanted to buy it for $2,300, but the McNamara’s asked for $300 per acre.

But because the war was winding down at that point, the offer was withdrawn.

The Navy decided April 15th, 1944 to end operations there and transfer its staff and equipment elsewhere. It returned the property to the Coast Guard on June 1st that year. After the Coast Guard abandoned the property, professional painter William Newman purchased it.

Dr. Michael Mavris later bought the building for an office and raised his family there.

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