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“Come, Let Us Talk Together” — Ham Contact Recalls Royal Telegraph Exchange


An ARRL Radiogram sent via Amateur Radio on August 16  to Queen Elizabeth II commemorated the anniversary of an exchange of telegrams 158 years earlier between Queen Victoria and US President James Buchanan. In August 1858, President Buchanan — staying at his summer White House in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania — responded to a transatlantic telegraphic invitation from Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace.

“Come, let us talk together,” the Queen’s message began in 1858.

The 21st Century contact, between Bedford County Amateur Radio Society (BCARS) special event N3B at Omni Bedford Springs Resort and GB3RS at the RSGB National Radio Centre Bletchley Park, was an effort to recreate the 19th Century event. ARRL helped to broker the arrangement with RSGB to activate GB3RS and make the contact possible.

“Greetings from Bedford County Penna. on the 158th anniversary of the first transatlantic telegraph message between Queen Victoria and President Buchanan in 1858,” the Radiogram said. “The county commissioners wish her majesty and Prince Philip best wishes.” It was signed by Bedford County Commission Chair Josh Lang.

The message to the UK was transmitted via CW on 20 meters by Lloyd B. Roach, K3QNT, and Bernie Frank, W3DRW, from the BCARS communication van. “Signals were marginal, but the message got through,” Roach said. “Our HF antenna on the van wasn’t working too well,” he added. “However, we were able to hear each other.” The operator at GB3RS was Trevor Hughes, G4WKJ, with Andy Roberts, M0GYK, assisting.

Roach said the N3B special event station was a huge hit at the resort. “Guests from the hotel visited the van and observed our operations,” he told ARRL. “This is a world-renowned destination. Eleven Presidents have used the facility for their summer White House, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.”

RSGB General Manager Steve Thomas, M1ACB, indicated that the Radiogram had been forwarded to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The special event received wide media coverage from a local newspaper and two TV stations.

Participants at the Bedford Springs end in addition to Frank and Roach, included Steve Elliott, KA3UDR; Jay Williams, K3SCM; John Hogenmiller, KB3DFZ; Mark Leibfreid, KC3CMF; Gary Metivier, KC3HKZ; Kenny Burtnett, WB3JEK, and Robin Hogenmiller, KC3EXR.

Founded in 1959, BCARS is an ARRL Special Service Club. — Thanks to Lloyd B. Roach, K3QNT, ARRL Western Pennsylvania Section PIO