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Wardenclyffe Tower

''Located in Shoreham, Long Island, New York''.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Facility grounds
3 Theories on operation
5 External links, resources, and references


Wardenclyffe Tower is named after James S. Warden, a western lawyer and banker, who had purchased land, in proximity to Manhattan, and built a resort community (known as Wardenclyffe-On-Sound). Warden believed that Tesla's system would establish a "Radio City" in the area. Warden offered Tesla 200 acres of land close to a railway line.

In 1900, Nikola Tesla began planning the Wardenclyffe Tower facility. In 1901, the construction project was begun on the land near Long Island Sound. The architect Stanford White designed the Wardenclyffe facility main building. Nikola Tesla's project was funded by influential industrialists and other venture capitalists. The project was also initially backed by the wealthy J. P. Morgan (he had a substaintial investment in the facility; initially investing over $100,000 to as much as $150,000).

In June 1902, Tesla's laboratory operations were moved to Wardenclyffe from his previous Houston street Laboratory. In 1903, the tower structure was near completion, although it was not yet functional due to a design error. When Morgan wanted to know "Where can I put the meter?", Tesla's vision of free power did not agree with Morgan's worldview. The construction costs eventually exceeded the money provided by Morgan, however, and additional financiers were reluctant to give any more. By July, 1904, Morgan (and the other investors) decided that additional financing was not to be given. J. P. Morgan also encouraged other investors to avoid the project. In May 1905, Tesla's alternating current motors and methods of power transmission patents expired, stopping the royalty payments and causing severe reduction to the fundinig of the Wardenclyffe Tower. Tesla advertised services of the Wardenclyffe facility to find alternative funding with little success. At this time, Tesla also designed the Tesla turbine at Wardenclyffe and produced Tesla coils for sale to various businesses to generate funding.

When Tesla could not find any more backers, most of the site's activity had to be shut down by 1905 and employees were laid off in 1906. Parts of the building were used until 1907. In 1908, Tunguska, in Siberia, was shocked by an enormous and mysterious explosion. Some have suggested that the Tunguska explosion may have been the result of an experiment by Tesla at Wardenclyffe from a 1908 article in Wireless Telegraphy & Telephone. Nikola Tesla asserted that his Wardenclyffe transciever could cause effects at a distance and it might be used as a weapon. In the article, Tesla states that he would be able to direct electrical energy to any point on the globe. Shortly afterward, Tesla stopped speaking of this type of possibility for Wardenclyffe-type installations.

Also in 1908, the property was foreclosed for the first time and Tesla then procured a second mortgage from the Waldorf-Astoria proprietor, George C. Boldt. The facility was partially abandoned around 1911, the tower structure eventually becoming disheveled and rotted out. Between 1912 and 1915, Tesla's finances unraveled and when the funders wanted to know how they were going to recapture their investments, Tesla did not give sufficient answers. Newspapers commented that it was "Tesla's million-dollar folly." The facility's main building was broken into and destroyed around that time, also. The Wardenclyffe's failure may have contributed to a mental breakdown Tesla experienced in this period. Coupled to the personal tragedy of Wardenclyffe for Tesla was the previous 1895 unexplained fire in Tesla's Houston Street laboratory, inwhich he lost many of his notes and documents, and produced a state of severe depression for Tesla. In 1915, the Wardenclyffe legal ownership was signed, sealed, and delivered to effect the transfer of property to George Boldt for a $20,000 debt.

Demolition and salvaging of the tower occurred in 1917. However, the main building still stands today. Tesla was not in New York during the tower's destruction. George Boldt wished to make the property availiable for sale. New York papers reported that the tower had been destroyed by order of the government to prevent its use by foreign agents. The United States government in 1917 may have aided the destruction of the Wardenclyffe Tower, ostensibly because it could provide a navigation landmark for German submarines. Basis in fact does not support either claim, but does not discount them either. On April 20, 1922 Tesla lost an appeal of judgment versus his backers on the second foreclosure. This locked out Tesla for any future development of the facility.

In 1925, the property ownership was transferred to Walter L. Johnson of Brooklyn. On March 6, 1939, Plantacres, Inc. purchased the facility's land and subsequently leased it to Peerless Photo Products, Inc. (which still is established on a portion of the land).

On February 14, 1967, the nonprofit public benefit corporation Brookhaven Town Historical Trust was established. It selected the Wardenclyffe facility to be designated as an historic site and as the first site to be preserved by the Trust on March 3, 1967.

In the month of July in 1976, a plaque from Yugoslavia with an inscription was installed by the Brookhaven Town Historic trust near the entrance of the facility. It reads:


Also, in 1976, an application was filed to have the main building listed in the New York State Register and National Register of Historic Places. It failed to get approval. In 1994, a campaign was again started requesting the placement of the Wardenclyffe facility on the National Register of Historic Places. By October 1994, a second Application for formal nomination was undertaken which may result in placement of the Wardenclyffe on both the New York State Registers of Historic Places and the National Registers of Historic Places. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation conducted inspections which established that the facility does meet New York's criteria for historic designation.

The present owners of the existing Wardenclyffe facility is AGFA-Gevaert.

Facility grounds

Wardenclyffe is located near the Shoreham Post Office and Shoreham Fire House on Route 25A in Shoreham, Long Island, New York. Wardenclyffe was divided into two main sections. The tower, which was located in the back, and the main building compose the entire facility grounds.

The tower was 187 feet tall and 68 feet in diameter. It had a supporting structure that was built of wood. It had a 55-ton steel (some report it was a better conducting material, such as copper) hemispherical structure at the top (referred to as a cupola). The tower was designed by one of Stanford White's associates. The design of this structure was such as to allow each piece to be taken out if needed and replaced as necessary. Beneath the tower, a shaft sank 120 feet into the ground. Sixteen iron pipes were placed at the depth of three hundred feet so that the telluric currents of the Earth could be transcieved by them.

The main building occupied the rest of the facility grounds. The main building included Tesla's laboratory and other assorted devices for the facility. Inside the main building, there were electromechanical devices, electrical generators, electrical transformers, glass blowing equipment, a machine shop, X-ray devices, Tesla coils, a remote controlled boat, cases with bulbs and tubes, an instrument room, wires, cables, a library, and a office. It was constructed in the style of the Italian Renaissance (referred to as the "Shingle style").

Theories on operation

Various theories exist on how Tesla intended to achieve the goals of the facility, from the use of radio (such as a 200 kW wireless system) to putting a charge on the Earth itself. Wardenclyffe in operation may have allowed secure multichannel transceiving of information and may have allowed universal navigation, time synchronization, and a global location system. Wardenclyffe was developed in a different way than modern broadcasting stations.

According to Tesla's writings, the facility had a dual purpose. Tesla had planned more than what he initially revealed to his investors. His station could not only transceive communication signals, but transmit power. The site was to be used by Nikola Tesla as part of an experiment in creating a distribution system for electricity that would allow power to be transmitted over any distance without wires. The site's other purpose was global wireless telecommunications and broadcasting. The facility was meant to be the start of a national (and later global) system of towers broadcasting power to users as radio waves. Instead of supplying electricity through a current grid system, users would simply "receive" power through antennas on their roofs. At the time the power grid was quite limited in terms of who it reached and the Tower represented a way of significantly reducing the cost of "electrifying" the countryside.

In basic terms, the system could consist of a Tesla coil. Wardenclyffe may have used extremely low frequency signals with the higher frequency signal. Powered by an industrial alternator, the tower could transceive energy into a natural circuit. The transmission medium could have been the Earth. Tesla explained in his various writings that the Earth itself was an LC circuit that may be electrically resonated at predescribed frequencies and transcievers could be used to accomplish this. Also, a surface wave, similar to the zenneck wave or schumann resonance, could have been ultilized. Wardenclyffe's tranciever system was organized in such a manner would make less complex radiated power. The earth currents and associated wave complex could have allowed wireless transceiving to any distance, with negligible loss due to radiation.

Wardenclyffe could have produced explosive releases of energy. Wardenclyffe could have been enabled to transmit weaponized impulses of electromagnetic energy (and been a precursor to Tesla's teleforce devices of later years). Tesla refers to "projecting wave-energy" in a New York Times article in March 1907. In April 1908, Tesla refers to direct transmission of electromagnetic waves, described in his technical publications, without the use of aerial deliverance methods or other tools of mass destruction. Tesla also cites his US1119732 patent of an apparatus for transmitting electrical energy. In 1915, Tesla said that it could be, " [...] practicable to transmit electrical energy without wires and produce destructive effects at a distance." Electromagnetic fireballs, spherical plasmoidss, and ball lightning have been reported to exhibit the same phenonomena.


"As soon as [the Wardenclyffe facility is] completed, it will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment. An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant. In the same manner any picture, character, drawing, or print can be transferred from one to another place ..." - Nikola Tesla, "The Future of the Wireless Art," Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony, 1908, pg. 67-71.

"It is not a dream, it is a simple feat of scientific electrical engineering, only expensive — blind, faint-hearted, doubting world! [...] Humanity is not yet sufficiently advanced to be willingly led by the discoverer's keen searching sense. But who knows? Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted, be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence — by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the strife of commercial existence. So do we get our light. So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combatted, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle." - Nikola Tesla (at the end of his dream for Wardenclyffe) [Wardenclyffe — A Forfeited Dream]

Wardenclyffe Tower

External links, resources, and references

See also: Tesla coil, Tesla patents