Wardenclyffe Foreclosure Proceedings, pp.177-179; Nikola Tesla for Defendant—Direct:

“Yes. You see the underground work is one of the most expensive parts of the tower. In this system that I have invented it is necessary for the machine to get a grip of the earth, otherwise it cannot shake the earth. It has to have a grip on the earth so that the whole of this globe can quiver, and to do that it is necessary to carry out a very expensive construction.”



Tesla Lab: $1,650,000
5 Randall Road, Shoreham, N.Y., between Tesla Court and Randall Road
AVAILABLE: The only surviving workplace of Tesla, commemorated by a plaque in the laboratory, could be preserved if money can be raised to buy the site.
SIZE: 15.69 acres
ZONING: Two-acre residential
PROS: Complex of 14 industrial buildings, including historic Tesla laboratory. Property can be delivered fully cleared and level.
CONS: Property was a New York State Superfund cleanup site, with the main concerns being silver and cadmium. Remediation was completed last year, but the site still requires semiannual groundwater monitoring as well as periodic inspections of two soil areas of concern, to ensure that they undergo no disturbance.

[Mark Twain, frequent laboratory guest]




by William J. Broad / May 5, 2009

In 1901, Nikola Tesla began work on a global system of giant towers meant to relay through the air not only news, stock reports and even pictures but also, unbeknown to investors such as J. Pierpont Morgan, free electricity for one and all. It was the inventor’s biggest project, and his most audacious.

The first tower rose on rural Long Island and, by 1903, stood more than 18 stories tall. One midsummer night, it emitted a dull rumble and proceeded to hurl bolts of electricity into the sky. The blinding flashes, The New York Sun reported, “seemed to shoot off into the darkness on some mysterious errand.” But the system failed for want of money, and at least partly for scientific viability. Tesla never finished his prototype tower and was forced to abandon its adjoining laboratory.

Today, a fight is looming over the ghostly remains of that site, called Wardenclyffe — what Tesla authorities call the only surviving workplace of the eccentric genius who dreamed countless big dreams while pioneering wireless communication and alternating current. The disagreement began recently after the property went up for sale in Shoreham, N.Y.

A science group on Long Island wants to turn the 16-acre site into a Tesla museum and education center, and hopes to get the land donated to that end. But the owner, the Agfa Corporation, says it must sell the property to raise money in hard economic times. The company’s real estate broker says the land, listed at $1.6 million, can “be delivered fully cleared and level,” a statement that has thrown the preservationists into action.

The ruins of Wardenclyffe include the tower’s foundation and the large brick laboratory, designed by Tesla’s friend Stanford White, the celebrated architect. “It’s hugely important to protect this site,” said Marc J. Seifer, author of “Wizard,” a Tesla biography. “He’s an icon. He stands for what humans are supposed to do — honor nature while using high technology to harness its powers.” Recently, New York State echoed that judgment. The commissioner of historic preservation wrote Dr. Seifer on behalf of Gov. David A. Paterson to back Wardenclyffe’s preservation and listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

On Long Island, Tesla enthusiasts vow to obtain the land one way or another, saying that saving a symbol of Tesla’s accomplishments would help restore the visionary to his rightful place as an architect of the modern age. “A lot of his work was way ahead of his time,” said Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center, a private group in Shoreham that is seeking to acquire Wardenclyffe. Dr. Ljubo Vujovic, president of the Tesla Memorial Society of New York, said destroying the old lab “would be a terrible thing for the United States and the world. It’s a piece of history.”

Tesla, who lived from 1856 to 1943, made bitter enemies who dismissed some of his claims as exaggerated, helping tarnish his reputation in his lifetime. He was part recluse, part showman. He issued publicity photos (actually double exposures) showing him reading quietly in his laboratory amid deadly flashes. Today, his work tends to be poorly known among scientists, though some call him an intuitive genius far ahead of his peers. Socially, his popularity has soared, elevating him to cult status.

Books and Web sites abound. Wikipedia says the inventor obtained at least 700 patents. YouTube has several Tesla videos, including one of a break-in at Wardenclyffe. A rock band calls itself Tesla. An electric car company backed by Google’s founders calls itself Tesla Motors. Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, sees the creator’s life as a cautionary tale. “It’s a sad, sad story,” Mr. Page told Fortune magazine last year. The inventor “couldn’t commercialize anything. He could barely fund his own research.” Wardenclyffe epitomized that kind of visionary impracticality.

Tesla seized on the colossal project at the age of 44 while living in New York City. An impeccably dressed bon vivant of Serbian birth, he was widely celebrated for his inventions of motors and power distribution systems that used the form of electricity known as alternating current, which beat out direct current (and Thomas Edison) to electrify the world. His patents made him a rich man, at least for a while. He lived at the Waldorf-Astoria and loved to hobnob with the famous at Delmonico’s and the Players Club.

Around 1900, as Tesla planned what would become Wardenclyffe, inventors around the world were racing for what was considered the next big thing — wireless communication. His own plan was to turn alternating current into electromagnetic waves that flashed from antennas to distant receivers. This is essentially what radio transmission is. The scale of his vision was gargantuan, however, eclipsing that of any rival.

Investors, given Tesla’s electrical achievements, paid heed. The biggest was J. Pierpont Morgan, a top financier. He sank $150,000 (today more than $3 million) into Tesla’s global wireless venture. Work on the prototype tower began in mid-1901 on the North Shore of Long Island at a site Tesla named after a patron and the nearby cliffs. “The proposed plant at Wardenclyffe,” The New York Times reported, “will be the first of a number that the electrician proposes to establish in this and other countries.” The shock wave hit Dec. 12, 1901. That day, Marconi succeeded in sending radio signals across the Atlantic, crushing Tesla’s hopes for pioneering glory.

Still, Wardenclyffe grew, with guards under strict orders to keep visitors away. The wooden tower rose 187 feet over a wide shaft that descended 120 feet to deeply anchor the antenna. Villagers told The Times that the ground beneath the tower was “honeycombed with subterranean passages.” The nearby laboratory of red brick, with arched windows and a tall chimney, held tools, generators, a machine shop, electrical transformers, glass-blowing equipment, a library and an office.

But Morgan was disenchanted. He refused Tesla’s request for more money. Desperate, the inventor pulled out what he considered his ace. The towers would transmit not only information around the globe, he wrote the financier in July 1903, but also electric power. “I should not feel disposed,” Morgan replied coolly, “to make any further advances.”

Margaret Cheney, a Tesla biographer, observed that Tesla had seriously misjudged his wealthy patron, a man deeply committed to the profit motive. “The prospect of beaming electricity to penniless Zulus or Pygmies,” she wrote, must have left the financier less than enthusiastic. It was then that Tesla, reeling financially and emotionally, fired up the tower for the first and last time. He eventually sold Wardenclyffe to satisfy $20,000 (today about $400,000) in bills at the Waldorf. In 1917, the new owners had the giant tower blown up and sold for scrap.

Today, Tesla’s exact plan for the site remains a mystery even as scientists agree on the impracticality of his overall vision. The tower could have succeeded in broadcasting information, but not power. “He was an absolute genius,” Dennis Papadopoulos, a physicist at the University of Maryland, said in an interview. “He conceived of things in 1900 that it took us 50 or 60 years to understand. But he did not appreciate dissipation. You can’t start putting a lot of power” into an antenna and expect the energy to travel long distances without great diminution.

Wardenclyffe passed through many hands, ending with Agfa, which is based in Ridgefield Park, N.J. The imaging giant used it from 1969 to 1992, and then shuttered the property. Silver and cadmium, a serious poison, had contaminated the site, and the company says it spent some $5 million on studies and remediation. The cleanup ended in September, and the site was put up for sale in late February. Real estate agents said they had shown Wardenclyffe to four or five prospective buyers. Last month, Agfa opened the heavily wooded site to a reporter. “NO TRESPASSING,” warned a faded sign at a front gate, which was topped with barbed wire.

Tesla’s red brick building stood intact, an elegant wind vane atop its chimney. But Agfa had recently covered the big windows with plywood to deter vandals and intruders, who had stolen much of the building’s wiring for its copper. The building’s dark interior was littered with beer cans and broken bottles. Flashlights revealed no trace of the original equipment, except for a surprise on the second floor. There in the darkness loomed four enormous tanks, each the size of a small car. Their sides were made of thick metal and their seams heavily riveted, like those of an old destroyer or battleship. The Agfa consultant leading the tour called them giant batteries. “Look up there,” said the consultant, Ralph Passantino, signaling with his flashlight. “There’s a hatch up there. It was used to get into the tanks to service them.” Tesla authorities appear to know little of the big tanks, making them potential clues to the inventor’s original plans.

After the tour, Christopher M. Santomassimo, Agfa’s general counsel, explained his company’s position: no donation of the site for a museum, and no action that would rule out the building’s destruction. “Agfa is in a difficult economic position given what’s going on in the global marketplace,” he said. “It needs to maximize its potential recovery from the sale of that site.” He added that the company would entertain “any reasonable offer,” including ones from groups interested in preserving Wardenclyffe because of its historical significance. “We’re simply not in a position,” he emphasized, “to donate the property outright.”

Ms. Alcorn of the Tesla Science Center, who has sought to stir interest in Wardenclyffe for more than a decade, seemed confident that a solution would be worked out. Suffolk County might buy the site, she said, or a campaign might raise the funds for its purchase, restoration and conversion into a science museum and education center. She said the local community was strongly backing the preservation idea. “Once the sign went up, I started getting so many calls,” she remarked. “People said: ‘They’re not really going to sell it, are they? It’s got to be a museum, right?’”

Sitting at a reading table at the North Shore Public Library, where she works as a children’s librarian, Ms. Alcorn gestured across a map of Wardenclyffe to show how the abandoned site might be transformed with not only a Tesla museum but also a playground, a cafeteria and a bookshop. “That’s critical,” she said. Ms. Alcorn said the investigation and restoration of the old site promised to solve one of the big mysteries: the extent and nature of the tunnels said to honeycomb the area around the tower. “I’d love to see if they really existed,” she said. “The stories abound, but not the proof.”

Wardenclyffe Foreclosure Proceedings, pp.177-179

Nikola Tesla for Defendant—Direct.
A. Yes. You see the underground work is one of the most expensive parts of the tower.  In this system that I have invented it is necessary for the machine to get a grip of the earth, otherwise it cannot shake the earth.  It has to have a grip on the earth so that the whole of this globe can quiver, and to do that it is necessary to carry out a very expensive construction.  I had in fact invented special machines.  But I want to say this underground work belongs to the tower.

By Mr. Hawkins:
Q. Anything that was there, tell us about.
A. There was, as your Honor states, a big shaft about ten by twelve feet goes down about one hundred and twenty feet and this was first covered with timber and the inside with steel and in the center of this there was a winding stairs going down and in the center of the stairs there was a big shaft again through which the current was to pass, and this shaft was so figured in order to tell exactly where the nodal point is, so that I could calculate every point of distance.  For instance I could calculate exactly the size of the earth or the diameter of the earth and measure it exactly within four feet with that machine.

Q. And that was a necessary appurtenance to your tower?
A. Absolutely necessary.  And then the real expensive work was to connect that central part with the earth, and there I had special machines rigged up which would push the iron pipe, one length after another, and I pushed these iron pipes, I think sixteen of them, three hundred feet, and then the current through these pipes takes hold of the earth.  Now that was a very expensive part of the work, but it does not show on the tower, but it belongs to the tower.
Nikola Tesla for Defendant–Direct.

By Mr. Fordham:
Q. Was the hole really one hundred and twenty feet deep.  did you say?
A. Yes, you see the ground water on that place is about one hundred and twenty feet.  We are above the ground water about one hundred and twenty feet.  In the well we struck water at about eighty feet.

By the Referee:
Q. What you call the main water table?
A. Yes, the main well we struck at eighty feet, but there we had to go deeper.

By Mr. Hawkins:
Q. Tell the court generally, not in detail, the purpose of that tower and the equipment which you have described connected with it?
Mr. Fordham: How is that material?
The Referee: I will take it.
Mr. Fordham: We except.
A. Well, the primary purpose of the tower, your Honor, was to telephone, to send the human voice and likeness around the globe.

By the Referee:
Q. Through the instrumentality of the earth.
A. Through the instrumentality of the earth.  That was my discovery that I announced in 1893, and now all the wireless plants are doing that.  There is no other system being used.  And the idea was to reproduce this apparatus and then connect it just with a central station and telephone office, so that you may pick up your telephone and if you wanted to talk to a telephone subscriber in Australia you would simply call up that plant and the plant would connect immediately with that subscriber, no matter where in the world, and you could talk to him.  And I had contemplated to have press messages, stock quotations, pictures for the press and these reproductions of signatures, checks and everything transmitted from there throughout the world, but—-

from Wizard, ch 33, p. 291
“At the base of the edifice, deep below the earth, along the descending spiral staircase, was a network of catacombs that extended out like spokes of a wheel.  Sixteen of them contained iron pipes which protruded from the central shaft to a distance of three hundred feet.  The expense for these “terrestrial grippers” was notable, as Tesla had to design “special machines to push the pipes, one after the other” [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents . . . , Foreclosure Proceedings] deep into the earth’s interior.

”Also in the well were four stone-lined tunnels, each of which gradually rose back to the surface.  Large enough for a man to crawl through, they emerged like isolated, igloo-shaped brick ovens three hundred feet from the base of the tower.

”Although the exact reason for the burrows has not been determined, their necessity was probably multifaceted.  Tesla had increased the length of the aerial by over a hundred feet by extending the shaft into the earth.  Simultaneously, he was able to more easily transmit energy through the ground with this arrangement.  It is possible that he also planned to resonate the aquifer which was situated slightly below the bottom of the well.  The insulated passageways which climbed back to the surface may have been safety valves, which would have allowed excess pressure to escape.  They also provided an alternative way to access the base.  Tesla may have planned to fill other shafts with salt water or liquid nitrogen to augment transmission.  There may have also been other reasons for their construction.” — Marc Seifer, Wizard : the life and times of Nikola Tesla, p. 291 [After “Dig for Mystery Tunnels Ends With Scientist’s Secret Intact,” Newsday, Feb. 13, 1979, p. 24, and “Famed inventor, Mystery Tunnels Linked,” Newsday, March 10, 1979, p. 19.]

Ron Short Correspondence:

From: Ron Short
To: Gary Peterson
Subject: TWP
Date: Thursday, February 07, 2002 12:45 PM

Hello, I am presently a student at the State University at Buffalo, New York and I was wondering if you could help me with a few questions.  I grew up in Shoreham, NY and have always been inherently interested in Tesla and his experimentation, especially his links with the now-defunct Radio Central, located only 5 miles south of his Wardenclyffe plant.

For a few years back, I have heard constant rumors, through friends and colleagues, that an extensive tunnel network had stretched from the beaches off of Shoreham, to Tesla’s laboratory (Now Peerless Labs), and further to a building in RCA.  This is interesting because I have also heard rumors that old equipment was stored down here (possibly some of Tesla’s?!).  These tunnels were rumored to have originated during the civil war; used to transport goods from the beach clandestinely to surrounding communities, and again in WWI to avoid any German intelligence gathering.  These tunnels, which still do exist, were enormous in width and height (when they were building the Shoreham-Wading River fire house (which lies right next to the old Tesla site), a crane FELL IN the underlying tunnel.  This I have seen the pictures of.

With all of this information, however, I have not been able to “dig up” any information locally, or via the internet, on these famed tunnels.  The last tidbit I heard was that, in order to prevent injuries or lawsuits, the entrance at Shoreham Beach was collapsed, and they are apparently now therefore inaccessible.  However, with the now overlying towns that did not exist when they were built, it is highly unlikely that that took the time to collapse the entire length of the tunnels.  In fact, a friend has a neighbor whose house is relatively old, and in his basement, on opposite walls, lies a huge, red-brick arched tunnel entrance, which is now walled off by cinder blocks.  He stated that his children used to go and “play” in the tunnels until they encountered a dead dog, and he walled off the entrance himself.  It is also rumored that the Peerless Laboratories used these tunnels to dispose of harmful photochemicals, which now may be why the old Tesla site is one of the most prominent EPA superfund sites in the country.  This is also why there has been no development on that land.  The EPA deemed it safer and more cost-effective to leave the site in its present state than to clean it up.  This is also why I am afraid that the sight might never be recognized as an Historical Site, if only for the reason to avoid an environmental scandal.

I have dragged on, but I have nowhere else to turn.  Hopefully, you will be able to help me in my search for further information  on the tunnels.

Sincerely yours,
Ron Short

From: Gary Peterson
To: Ron Short
Subject: Re: TWP
Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 5:49 PM

Thank you for contacting me about the mysterious “Tesla tunnels” that have worked their way into the folklore which surrounds Tesla’s experimental work at Wardenclyffe.  I too am intrigued by this story and would like to learn the truth behind the rumors.

Let me start out by comparing some pieces of your account with what I have heard.  Regarding the firehouse incident, I was told that an underground chamber was exposed during excavation and a dead dog was found there.  And it is said that some of Tesla’s Colorado Springs apparatus had been put into a tunnel at the site.  As for the disposal of chemicals by Peerless, it’s my understanding the present concern is that chemicals may have been dumped down the 120 foot central shaft which was part of the underground portion of the wireless communications tower.  (Not directly related is a report from another Shoreham native of Wardenclyffe-related artifacts residing in an old landfill now partially under a parking lot, located near and in Gill’s Gully (near Gill’s Rock and Shoreham Shore Club), said to have been used by the Wardenclyffe Hotel, now Briarcliff School.)

This brings me to another aspect of the story that leads to even further confusion.  In trying to piece together an account of Tesla’s activities at Wardenclyffe it has been said that the rumored tunnel had been build by Tesla himself, dug between the lab building and the tower foundation.  While Agfa has looked for this tunnel without success, there is a written description and photographic documentation of two approximately 12″ round conduits for air and electrical power lines connecting the two points.  There is no doubt that Tesla did some major excavation in assembling his L. I. facility.  The tower shaft alone involved the moving of some 14,400 cubic feet of earth, at least.

Your account of the tunnels dating back to the Civil-War era is new to me.  Up to this point I had assumed the story was a corruption of eyewitness accounts of Tesla’s 1901 activities — the Shoreham Firehouse account not withstanding.  Of particular interest to me is the walled-off tunnel entrance in your friend’s basement.  Do you know how old the house is, i.e., was it built circa 1860-65?  Do you think he would be willing to have the cinder blocks removed to allow for exploration?

Getting back to the ongoing Peerless-Site cleanup, we have been in touch with the fellow at the N.Y.S. Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s office in Stony Brook who is in charge of monitoring the cleanup.  He says that Agfa is committed to the performance of any required remedial actions needed to eliminate the existing problem.  I understand the public input part of the process might occur this summer.  Is it possible that you might be able to participate at that time?

Gary Peterson

From: Ron Short
To: Gary Peterson
Subject: Re: Update on new info
Date: Thursday, February 28, 2002 10:16 AM

Hello again.  First, I would like to thank you for graciously taking some time out to reply to me concerning the tunnels.  I have e-mailed many others concerning this, but you were the only one who has replied as of the present.  Now, for the new information.

I have been in constant contact with a couple of close friends that are as interested in the tunnels as you and I.  Conveniently, one of them lives in Shoreham.  He and another have recently begun investigating the exact location of these tunnels.  We have recently learned that the tunnels did, in fact, extend to the beach, and existed intact until 1965, when the beach entrance was collapsed and permanently sealed.  The location of this entrance, not surprisingly, was about 500 feet west of the present day Shoreham Club House.  I have been unable to find, however, any records from either the town or the state regarding this event.  My friend surmised the location, and is at present attempting to determine whether the tunnels are at all intact in that site.  Further (which corroborates with the story you had mentioned to me about the landfill), my friend says that he thinks he may have encountered an outcropping of machinery very near the clubhouse and therefore the rumored entrance to the tunnel.

As for your question about the age of the house with the tunnel outline in the basement, it dates back at least the the first decade of the 1900’s.  We have also obtained an old map of Wardenclyffe approx.  1905, and the house is clearly shown on the map.  The house, however, was said to be a speakeasy, which make me wonder whether the basement anomalie was a tunnel entrance, or simply a secret “hiding place” for liquor or other contraband.  We are, at present, attempting to get permission from the owner to observe this entrance first-hand.

Another new tidbit is that concerning a medical complex directly across from the Tesla site.  In the late 1950’s and 1960’s, the complex was an orphanage.  There have surfaced many stories about the children going into the basement, and emerging hundreds of feet from the building actually in the Peerless site (undoubtedly another reason for the tunnels to be closed.)

Summarily, it seems that finally we are getting some concrete proof of the tunnels’ existence.  I have also recently spoke to an ex-employee of Grumman, and he stated that the tunnels were known about for YEARS by the employees of Grumman, and they even actually went down them in the past.
So now, the next step is to attempt to gain access.  This, of course, might not be possible, but I am attempting every legal route I can think of.  I don’t think anyone wants a trespassing charge on their record (especially me, I am currently applying for my PhD in psychology).  If proof of the existence of these tunnels can be found, I think that it would do wonders for the Wardenclyffe site and hopefully compel a further official investigation of the site.

Anyhow, if you have any more information (web sites, e-mail contacts), it would be greatly appreciated.  Hopefully, the existence of these tunnels will not remain shrouded in mystery for long.

Sincerely yours,
Ron Short

From: Gary Peterson
To: Ron Short
Subject: Re: Contact Information
Date: Monday, April 15, 2002 11:26 AM

Hi Ron,
Here is Tesla’s own description of the underground work associated with the tower from the 1923 Foreclosure Proceedings:
. . . In this system that I have invented it is necessary for the machine to get a grip of the earth, otherwise it cannot shake the earth.  It has to have a grip on the earth so that the whole of this globe can quiver, and to do that it is necessary to carry out a very expensive construction.  I had in fact invented special machines.  But I want to say this underground work belongs to the tower.
There was . . . a big shaft about ten by twelve feet goes down about one hundred and twenty feet and this was first covered with timber and the inside with steel and in the center of this there was a winding stairs going down and in the center of the stairs there was a big shaft again through which the current was to pass, and this shaft was so figured in order to tell exactly where the nodal point is, so that I could calculate every point of distance.  For instance I could calculate exactly the size of the earth or the diameter of the earth and measure it exactly within four feet with that machine.
. . . the real expensive work was to connect that central part with the earth, and there I had special machines rigged up which would push the iron pipe, one length after another, and I pushed these iron pipes, I think sixteen of them, three hundred feet, and then the current through these pipes takes hold of the earth.  Now that was a very expensive part of the work, but it does not show on the tower, but it belongs to the tower.  . . .

The as-built underground installation appears to have included a 120′ vertical 10′ x 12′ shaft with an additional 300′ of iron pipe pushed straight down to a depth of 420′.  It’s not surprising he spent so much time in this area considering the overall complexity of the job.

As for EPA info, as early as 1994 the had NYDEC listed Peerless as an “Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site.” The report gives, CLASSIFICATION CODE: 2, REGION: 1, SITE CODE: 152031 & EPA ID: NYD002044139.

From: Ron Short
To: Gary Peterson
Subject: Re: Thank you for the communication
Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 4:42 PM

Gary, concerning the company Cornell-Petsco, it is a real estate company.  I researched online, but was unable to find any info.  regarding the sale of the Telsa property.  It is apparent, however, that AGFA is looking to sell the property, whether it be a building or as a whole.

My associate on long island that I had mentioned in prior letters has, in fact, been talking to a gentleman who was contracted to install duct work around approximately 1982.  This gentleman was able to give my friend a relatively detailed map of a tunnel underground that matched the descriptions I have heard about for some time now.  This tunnel led underground in a westerly fashion from the laboratory building to a single-story office building.  He described the tunnels as being black in color (probably carbonized) and as seeing workstations along the sides of the tunnels with purple-color lights (probably used for photographic purposes).  The tunnels were, though, constructed of stone mortared together and apparently when he drilled the anchors for the HVAC, it was quite difficult.

This is the first real concrete eyewitness map we have encountered as of yet, and will investigate this further, hopefully.
Actually, out of curiosity, I was wondering if is is true that AGFA and Peerless are owned by the same parent company, Bayer?  Either way, I appreciate your continued contact and information.  My friend and I will continue further research and will contact you soon.

Thank you.
Ron Short

Nikola Tesla’s Wireless Work : a ground-based system for wireless transmission

“The tower was destroyed two years ago but my projects are being developed and another one, improved in some features, will be constructed. . . . My project was retarded by laws of nature. The world was not prepared for it. It was too far ahead of time, but the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphal success.” Nikola Tesla, My Inventions, 1919

The Creation of a Monument to Nikola Tesla
by Gary Peterson

I. Introduction
Radio communications, fluorescent lighting and AC power, these are all familiar and vital components of life as we know it in the latter part of the twentieth century and all were contributions of the prolific turn-of-the-century inventor Nikola Tesla. In spite of their exceptional significance, there are additional inventions which this remarkable man left to the world with the capacity to be of an equivalent or perhaps even greater value to society. Much of Nikola Tesla’s legacy, that which can be read about, built and used, is in the form of these inventions—much but not all.

Near the North Shore Long Island community of Shoreham, New York there remains a sturdy 94 by 94 foot red brick structure which is another, no less significant reminder of this great man’s work. Its importance lies not so much in the technology which it represents nor in the engineering clues that remain buried there. It is in the fact that the Wardenclyffe Power Plant / Office Building, designed by the well renowned architect Stanford White, is the last of Dr. Tesla’s own work places to remain standing anywhere in the world. The saga of the building’s history, from its construction in 1902 alongside a 187 foot companion tower to house the various components of a prototype world broadcasting and communications facility to later less glamorous uses, is a story yet to be fully told. And, there is history in the making as well. For a movement is underway which, if successful, will result in the establishment of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe—a permanent monument to this great creative genius and his work.

II. Background
Just to the east of Manhattan, Nikola Tesla’s principle place of residence from 1884 until his death in 1943, is another somewhat larger body of land known as Long Island. Extending about 115 miles along the Atlantic shoreline of the United States, this 12 mile wide island is bounded by Long Island Sound to the north, and the East River, New York Bay and the Narrows to the west. It was formed due to the effect of glaciations, with its geography being defined by the deposition of two glacial moraines and associated outwash plains. Settlement of the area started in the late 1600s and continued on through the year 1800, after being purchased from the indigenous people known as the Montauks. The occupations of the residents were mainly related to farming, a character which the area retains to this day. A cordwood industry eventually developed as well, with logs of chestnut, oak and pine being shipped by sailing vessel to heat homes and fuel brickyard kilns in nearby New York City. Around 1850 the effects of an increasing demand for fuel along with a chestnut blight combined, resulting in forest depletion. The introduction of coal as wood’s replacement occurred at the same time.

III. Wardenclyffe-On-Sound
About 50 years later, having just returned to New York from a productive scientific expedition at the edge of the Colorado Rockies, Nikola Tesla was anxious to put a mass of new found knowledge to work. His vision was focused on the development of a prototype wireless communications station and research facility, and he needed a site on which to build. Long Island was already home to more than one-and-a-quarter million people when in 1901 he cast his eyes some 60 miles eastward to the north-shore village of Woodville Landing. Only six years before the northern branch of the Long Island Railroad had opened, reducing travel time to the locality from a horse-drawn five hours to less than two. Seeing an opportunity in land development a western lawyer and banker by the name of James S. Warden had purchased 1400 acres in the area and started building an exclusive summer resort community known as Wardenclyffe-On-Sound.[1] With an opportunity for further development in mind, Warden offered Tesla a 200-acre section of this parcel lying directly to the south of the newly laid track. It was anticipated that implementation of Tesla’s system would eventually lead to the establishment of a “Radio City” to house the thousands of employees needed for operation of the facility. The proximity to Manhattan and the fairly short travel time between the two, along with the site’s closeness to a railway line must surely have been attractive features and Tesla accepted the offer.

The Wardenclyffe World Wireless facility as envisioned by Tesla was to have been quite different from radio broadcasting stations as they presently exist. While there was to be a great similarity in the apparatus employed, the method in which it was to be utilized would have been radically different. Conventional transmitters are designed so as to maximize the amount of power radiated from the antenna structure. Such equipment must process tremendous amounts of power in order to counteract the loss in field strength (P = 1/R2) encountered as the signal radiates outward from its point of origin. The transmitter at Wardenclyffe was being configured so as to minimize the radiated power. The energy of Tesla’s steam driven Westinghouse 200 kW alternator was to be channeled instead into an underground structure consisting of iron pipes driven from a point 120 feet beneath the tower’s base.[2] This was to be accomplished by combining an extremely low frequency signal (ELF) with the higher frequency signal coursing through the transmitter’s master oscillator and helical resonator. The low frequency current in the presence of an enveloping corona-induced plasma of free charge carriers would have “pumped” the earth’s charge.[3] It is believed the resulting ground current and its associated wave complex would have allowed the propagation of wireless transmissions to any distance on the earth’s surface with as little as 5% loss due to radiation. The terrestrial transmission line modes so excited would have supported a system with the following technical capabilities:

1. Establishment of a multi-channel global broadcasting system with programming including news, music, et cetera;
2. Interconnection of the world’s telephone and telegraph exchanges, and stock tickers;
3. Transmission of written and printed matter, and data;
4. World wide reproduction of photographic images;
5. Establishment of a universal marine navigation and location system, including a means for the synchronization of precision timepieces;
6. Establishment of secure wireless communications services.[4]

Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Powerplant & Laboratory
The plan was to build the first of many installations to be located near major population centers around the world. If the program had moved forward without interruption, the Long Island prototype would have been followed by additional units the first of which being built somewhere along the coast of England.[5] By the Summer of 1902 Tesla had shifted his laboratory operations from the Houston Street Laboratory to the rural Long Island setting and work began in earnest on development of the station and furthering of the propagation research. Construction had been made possible largely through the backing of financier J. Pierpont Morgan who had offered Tesla $150,000 towards the end of 1900.[6] By July 1904, however, this support had run out and with a subsequent major downturn in the financial markets Tesla was compelled to pursue alternative methods of financing. With funds raised through an unrecorded mortgage against the property, additional venture capital, and the sale of X-ray tube power supplies to the medical profession, he was able to make ends meet for another couple of years.[7] In spite of valiant efforts to maintain the operation, income dwindled and his employees were eventually dropped from the payroll.

Still, Tesla was certain that his wireless system would return handsome rewards if it could only be set into operation and so the work continued as he was able. A second mortgage in 1908 acquired again from the Waldorf-Astoria proprietor George C. Boldt allowed some additional bills to be paid, but debt continued to mount and between 1912 and 1915 Tesla’s financial condition disintegrated. The loss of ability to make additional payments was accompanied by the collapse of his plan for high capacity trans-Atlantic wireless communications. The property was foreclosed, Nikola Tesla honored the agreement with his debtor and title on the property was signed over to Mr. Boldt. The plant’s abandonment sometime around 1911 followed by demolition and salvaging of the tower in 1917 essentially brought an end to this era. Tesla’s April 20, 1922 loss on appeal of the judgment completely closed the door to any further chance of his developing the site.

Another Time And Another Use
Little is known about the next 17 years of the building’s history. In 1919 the Radio Corporation of America established an overseas communications facility in the area. As part of this system a high power transmitter was build only two miles away in the adjacent town of Rocky Point. It is possible the building saw use as a storage warehouse in conjunction with this operation. Then, on April 24, 1939 a story about Tesla’s building appeared in the news. It was reported the property had been sold to new interests, specifically a Mr. Walter L. Johnson of Brooklyn, New York.[8] Within a few months the building was in the hands of Peerless Photo Products, Inc., it having been selected “due to its location in a smoke and smog free environment with an abundant supply of pure water and high grade, intelligent labor.”[9] Shortly thereafter on-site manufacturing operations that would span the next 48 years had begun. The primary activities at the Peerless Photo Products plant were related the production of photographic emulsions used in the manufacture of photographic film and the emulsion coating of photographic paper.

In July 1987 all manufacturing operations at the Peerless Photo Products site ceased and decommissioning of the plant began. The bulk of the decommissioning process would require more than three years. The first step involved the removal of some remaining semi-solid material from an onsite wastewater treatment plant and its shipment to a permitted disposal site. About the same time, remaining treatment chemicals were also disposed of in a similar fashion. In addition, various unused chemicals associated with the actual manufacturing processes along with some salvaged materials were shipped off of the site. In the next stage all of the tankage and piping from emulsion manufacture through wastewater treatment plant were thoroughly flushed with a hot high pressure wash system and the rinse water removed. The floors in areas of chemical use and coating machinery operation were also cleaned and the labs were washed down, with all of the resulting wastewater once again being shipped off site for disposal. The usable process equipment was dismantled for later shipment and other less easily cleanable pieces of equipment were removed. As an additional measure the septic tanks were completely pumped to remove any residuals from in house operations. The final phase of decommissioning saw the removal of eight underground storage tanks. [10]

A New Beginning For An Historic Building
The third period in the history of Nikola Tesla’s laboratory can be said to have opened on March 3, 1967 with the recommendation of a research committee appointed by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Charles W. Barraud that the building be designated as an historic site. At that time, just about 50 years after the tower’s demolition, the historical significance of the property as it relates to Nikola Tesla’s engineering legacy was officially recognized. The American bicentennial year of 1976 saw an even greater revival of interest in Nikola Tesla and his work. A number of notable events entered into the historical record during this year.

One of the first was the establishment by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) of the Nikola Tesla Award. On January 27, 1976 the first award was presented to Leon T. Rosenberg for his outstanding contributions in the field of generation and utilization of electric power. This was followed a few days later by the IEEE’s “Nikola Tesla Symposium” conducted during their January 30, 1976 meeting at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in New York City. Presenters included Robert W. Flugum, Assistant Director—Transmission Division of Electric Energy Systems, USERDA; Frank A. Jenkins, Duke Power Company; Prof. Vojin Popovic, Beograd Yugoslavia; Tomo Bosanac and Lazar Ljubisa; J. R. Morin, GTE Sylvania Inc.; Charles L. Wagner, Manager, Transmission Systems Engineering, Westinghouse Electric Corp.; John J. Dougherty, Director, Transmission & Distribution Division, EPRI; Dean B. Harrington and Karl F. Drexler; Veljko Korac; and, J. C. White, General Electric Company.

About five months later, on July 7, 1976, ceremonies timed to coincide with the 120th anniversary of Tesla’s birth were begun at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The event included a symposium co-chaired by Vasa Veskovic, Council General of Yugoslavia and R. C. Anderson, Assistant Director, BNL and organized with cooperation of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Among the scheduled speakers were Frank A. Jenkins, President IEEE Power Engineering Society; Walter H. Bales, Westinghouse Electric Corporation; Gorden D. Friedlander, Senior Editor, IEEE Spectrum; and, Eric B. Forsyth, head of BNL’s Power Transmission Project. That same day, with the cooperation of the Brookhaven Town Historic trust, an historical marker was dedicated and placed near the entrance of the Tesla Laboratory building.[11] The plaque, donated by Yugoslavia, bore the following inscription:


The following Saturday, July 10, 1976, a 5 dinar stamp was issued by Yugoslavia, marking the 120th anniversary of Tesla’s birth on July 10, 1856. Designed by Andreja Milenkovic, it carried an image reflecting the Tesla monument in front of the Electrical Engineering Facility in Belgrade against a background of Niagara Falls. Another effort this year was the July 24 dedication of the Nikola Tesla statue on Goat Island adjacent to Niagara Falls. One further action which took place in 1976 was the first application seeking to have the property containing the Tesla Laboratory Building and the Communications Tower Foundation placed on the New York State Register, and National Register of Historic Places. This important act would set the stage for future efforts directed towards preservation of the historic Wardenclyffe landmark.

In the Spring of 1994 at the request of Dr. Ljubomir Vujovic of the Tesla Memorial Society, noted Tesla historian Leland Anderson contacted the various Tesla-named organizations here in the United States. The mailing was to encourage the initiation of a letter writing campaign once again advocating placement of the Wardenclyffe site on the National Register of Historic Places. It was requested that letters be directed towards three specific U.S. Government offices.

The first office was that of the Vice President of the United States. It is significant that Vice President Gore is presently aware of Dr. Tesla’s achievements in the areas of electrical and mechanical engineering. The second was the National Park Service, Cultural Resources, U.S. Department of the Interior. The National Park Service oversees the preservation of federal historic sites and administration of buildings programs. Their programs include the placement of properties on the National Register of Historic Places plus grant and aid assistance. The third entity was the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. This agency advises the President and Congress on historic preservation issues. It reviews and comments on federal projects and programs affecting historic, architecture, archaeological, and cultural resources.

What ensued over the course of the next few months was an outpouring of support by individuals from across America. At the advice of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, follow-up letters were addressed to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It should be noted that National Historic designation is always preceded by historic designation at the state level. By mid-October 1994, a second Application for Technical Assistance had been filed with New York State on behalf of the historic Wardenclyffe building and tower foundation sites. This reinitiated the formal nomination process which, if entirely successful, will result in placement of the Wardenclyffe sites on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Subsequently the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation conducted an on-site inspection which established that the sites meet with the seven New York State criteria for Historic Designation. Up until May 1995 much of this work had been conducted by members of an ad hoc group called the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project Committee. By that time it was apparent that we needed to coalesce into a formal institution in order to successfully achieve our growing set of objectives.

On May 6, 1995 the first meeting of the Board of Directors was held and it was agreed that the ad hoc committee would be re-established as the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc. The Directors were confirmed and its Officers were elected. At the same meeting a Technical Advisory Board was established. This group presently includes such notable individuals as Leland Anderson, Margaret Cheney, James Corum, Harry Goldman, William Terbo, and George Westinghouse, IV. Our most important objective was, and still is, acquisition of the 16.2 acre parcel in Shoreham upon which are located the Wardenclyffe building and the transmitting / receiving tower foundation.

The present owners, AGFA Corporation, had stated their intention to divest themselves of the property after completion of a final cleanup. Furthermore, they indicated that donation of the entire facility to a properly configured receiver would be a cost-effective way for them to proceed. It is with this in mind that we initiated discussions with an Eastern Long Island group known as The Friends of Science East, Inc. This not-for-profit corporation was created in January 1996 with the mission of establishing a regional science center in their area. The Peerless Photo Products site was among the possible locations being considered in that regard. (Please note that in addition to the 10,000 square foot Tesla Laboratory Building an additional 90,000 square feet of floor space exist at the Peerless site.)

What Does The Future Hold?
Since a primary goal of the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project is to acquire Tesla related memorabilia with the hope of establishing a Tesla museum in the lab building and that of the Friends of Science East is to establish a science museum, it is felt that a common interest exists in the acquisition of the property. Ongoing discussions between the two groups have resulted in the development of a common vision for the site’s future. This is centered around the concept to establish a joint operating entity called Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe. While AGFA has expressed an interest in seeing the site conserved for a future use that is in harmony with its historical nature and has stated that donation of the property for such purposes is under consideration, the company will not make a final decision in this regard until their present decommissioning activities have been completed.

If the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is successful in its bid to acquire Tesla Laboratory Building, a vast field of possibilities will be opened up. Defined in the broadest terms, its mission will be the reintegration of Nikola Tesla back into the mainstream of science and academia, and to instill visitors with a greater interest in the sciences in general. Once plans for the Nikola Tesla Museum, the Nikola Tesla Library and Historical Archives, and the Science Museum are sufficiently advanced it is felt that restoration and placement of the building and the adjacent tower foundation on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places will naturally follow.

IV. Conclusion
As more and more commercial and residential development takes place across America and around the world, much greater importance becomes attached to the preservation of such rare sites as Wardenclyffe for the benefit of the present and future generations. While considerable progress has been made in advancing our program, many formidable challenges still lie ahead. Working together, the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project and the Friends of Science East have established an open dialogue with the building’s owners, and strong assurances have been received that we are prime candidates to acquire the property.

How do you the reader fit into all of this? The Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc. is a small but growing institution. We are registered as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt membership organization and are actively seeking additional people to fill out our ranks. If you have something to offer the Project, whether it is in the form of financial support through a membership contribution, access to a particular talent, or simply your vote of confidence, then please take some time from your schedule to send us a note or make a phone call. A plan to steer the destiny of an important historical landmark on the North Shore of Long Island, New York is now underway. We are working to earn your support and would very much like to hear from you. All correspondence should be addressed to:

The Tesla Wardenclyffe Project
P.O. Box 8041
Breckenridge, CO 80424-8041
United States of America
or call: (970) 453-9293.

Suffolk County is looking into the possibility of making renowned scientist
Nikola Tesla’s Shoreham lab into a science museum.
BY Alison Snyder / North Shore Sun / February 6, 2009

The former research lab of famed inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla in Shoreham has taken a step closer to becoming the science center and museum that advocates have long dreamed of. Legislation sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham) and passed by the legislature enables the county to begin the planning process to acquire the 16.2-acre site off Route 25A between Randall Road and Tesla Street. “We’re going to take the lead on this,” said Mr. Losquadro. “Everyone has been saying all along they want this property to be preserved.” The move comes nearly two years after the cleanup of the contaminated site wrapped to a close. The site is owned by Afga-Gevaert, a Belgian photographic film company.

The county now will contact Afga and begin the appraisal process and discussions to possibly acquire the property, Mr. Losquadro said. He added that he wants to see the government be proactive about it, instead of a reactive effort he fears would follow if an entity offered to purchase the property without preservation in mind. Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, the nonprofit organization formerly known as Friends of Science East, said she is happy to see some movement toward transforming the 10,000-square-foot former research lab on the property into a museum. “We just hope that all the involved parties come to an amicable agreement and allow this to go forward and become a museum,” she said.

The group envisions a museum with a permanent exhibit highlighting Tesla, who pioneered the alternating current power system and invented radio and the bladeless steam turbine, which harnessed hydroelectric power at Niagara Falls. Mr. Tesla is believed by many to be the most important scientist and inventor of the modern age. His famous Wardenclyffe tower and laboratory in Shoreham were built between 1901 and 1905. The tower was dismantled in 1917. Ms. Alcorn said she also wants the museum to foster a wider interest in science with other science-related exhibitions, Saturday science programs, seminars and lecture series, science-related films and a playground that teaches children about physics as they play. She would also like to see the museum serve as a community center for gatherings and meetings. “The idea is we’d like to have something that’s useful for the community as well as providing scientific education,” she said.

Despite the difficult economic times, Mr. Losquadro said the county has dedicated land preservation funds — which can’t be spent on anything else — available for purchasing the site. And now would be a good time to purchase the property, he added. “With the economy in a downturn, we have the ability to preserve important lands when they’re worth less,” he said. If the county ends up purchasing the land and the building, Mr. Losquadro acknowledged that both would require a significant amount of money for restoration and upkeep and said the county likely wouldn’t do more than owning the property. What he is looking for, he said, is a public-private partnership with the Tesla Science Center, which would be responsible for the building and developing the site. He said corporate sponsorships of a museum would also be possible, since Tesla did a lot of pioneering work with wireless communications technology.

Neither Mr. Losquadro or Ms. Alcorn had an indication of what type of time frame it might take to acquire the property and turn it into a museum, citing the willingness of Afga to sell the property to the county. The company is aware of the goal to purchase the property and turn the research lab into a museum, Ms. Alcorn said. Mr. Losquadro said the county’s planning and real estate departments are now in charge of the matter and will be contacting the company.

Cleanup Reaches Milestone
by Jane Alcorn / The Sound Observer / May 25, 2007

The cleanup at the Agfa-Peerless Photo Products site in Shoreham reached a milestone recently when all the physical removal of contaminated material was completed, and final testing was done. According to Agfa representative Charlene Graff, the removal of soils and remediation was completed over a month ago, and the cleaned areas were tested for safety. “The preliminary test results are good,” she said. Levels of cadmium and other chemicals that were dumped on the grounds from the photo emulsion processing conducted on the site years ago led to it being placed on a list of places requiring cleanup under the supervisions of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

The Agfa staff will be working on writing the reports that describe the completed work and test results over the next six weeks, and plan to send the reports for review by the DEC and the state and county health departments. These agencies will examine the reports, and make recommendations for changes, clarifications, or improvements in the reports. When all of the paperwork is done, the DEC will release the site from its list of contaminated sites and allow Agfa to make a decision as to its future use. This process could take several months. There will be ongoing monitoring for years of several places on the property where remediation included stabilization of soils, resulting in restrictions on the future use for some of the land.

Graff said the company plans to remove some of the remaining buildings on the site: the wastewater treatment plant, the administration building, and the old white house facing Route 25A are slated for demolition due to asbestos and structural issues. These activities do not require the oversight of the DEC. Additional structures on the site may also be removed after assessment of their safety and usefulness. On May 18, Graff and Girish Desai of the DEC conducted a brief tour of the property for New York State Assemblyman Mark Alessi, Brookhaven Councilman Kevin McCarrick and their assistants. “We walked the property and were shown where work had been done,” said John Kreutz, assistant to McCarrick. “They’re doing an assessment of what the place is worth.”

“They are looking to find out what the property is worth,” agreed Kaitlin Boyd, chief of staff for Alessi. “They said it was a unique property in a residential area. There is nothing to compare it to, and it is hard to come up with a price.” Peter Scully, regional director of the DEC, was also on the tour of the grounds. “The good news is that the cleanup of the site has followed the plan.” said Scully. “What remains to be seen is how the property will be treated as a real estate asset. I’m interested in how the plans of town and other public officials who have shown an interest in its future will play out.” The property is the site of scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla’s turn-of-the-century laboratory. Tesla’s lab, a 94’x94′ square brick building, was designed by his friend, renowned architect Stanford White. The brick building still stands. Also on the site is the remains of the base of Tesla’s 187-foot tower that was intended to be a wireless transmissions tower. The tower was demolished in 1917 when Tesla encountered financial difficulties. The tower base was one of the places where contamination remediation caused particular problems. The base was originally dug 120 feet down. After the tower was removed, subsequent occupants of the property used the large hole in the ground for dumping unwanted material, some of it hazardous. Agfa and the DEC arranged for the tower base contamination to be stabilized through injecting a cement-like slurry into the area that solidified the soil and discarded material, and prevents any spread of contamination. As to the future disposition of the property, many suggestions have been made, among them a plan to convert the Tesla laboratory into a science museum and Tesla archive.

Friends of Science East, a local group, has been following the cleanup for over ten years, while maintaining contact with Agfa, in hopes of realizing their goal of the museum. “We envision a Tesla Science Center that brings the excitement of science to the people of Long Island. That excitement drove people like Tesla at the dawn of our modern age of electricity and communication, and it is very much alive on Long Island today,” said Chris Wesselborg, secretary of FSE. “Tesla’s laboratory in Shoreham is an important historic landmark. It testifies to his fundamental contributions to some of our key technologies. What better way to celebrate Long Island’s heritage than with a regional science and technology center and museum at that site,” he said. Tesla was the developer and inventor of the alternating current induction motor, neon lighting, radio wave remote-controlled devices, and the formative patents for radio, Tesla was declared to be the “father of radio” by the Supreme Court, his patents superseding Guglielmo Marconi’s. The Shoreham laboratory, called Wardenclyffe, was planned by Tesla to be the center of his World Wireless System, where he planned to send wireless communications and to transmit energy without wires.

No decision has been made by Agfa regarding the future use of the site. One potential owner is a coalition of the state and town. “We’re not going to make any decisions until all the paperwork is done and the state (DEC) signs off on it,” said Graff. “First I want to be sure the cleanup is done properly. I want to see the reports,” said Alessi. “I really think the site is of historic significance, and I would like to see the Tesla building preserved.” “I would like to hear from the community about what the property should become overall,” he said. “There is so much history surrounding what Tesla has done there in terms of electrical experiments. Shoreham has a legendary past, this is part of it, and I don’t want to see that lost,” said Alessi. “I’m happy we’re at the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding the remediation process. Now maybe the town get together with Agfa to begin a negotiation process,” said McCarrick. “Everybody [on the tour] was in agreement to take whatever steps were necessary to preserve the historic Stanford White-designed laboratory. This property has the potential to become an education center and to be a testimony to Nikola Tesla’s legacy on Long Island,” said Kreutz.

Wardenclyffe, An Historical Landmark

“We would like to see Wardenclyffe placed on both the New York State and National Historic Registers. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Register is part of a federal program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Placing Wardenclyffe on the National Register of Historic Places will provide the world with a tangible reminder of Dr. Tesla’s work. Wardenclyffe’s importance lies not so much in the technology which it represents or in the engineering clues buried there—it is in the fact that Wardenclyffe is the last of Dr. Tesla’s work places to remain standing anywhere in the world. The saga of the building’s history, from its design by Stanford White, to its contruction to house a prototype world communications facility to its later adaptation for other commercial uses, is a story yet to be fully told.

Efforts to have the property placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places were begun in September 1994 by the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project through contact with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Our application has subsequently received approval after a finding that the site meets with the seven New York State criteria for listing. Efforts for National Historic Designation will be greatly facilitated if the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project / Friends of Science East coalition is successful in acquiring the property from its current owners.”


The three fundamental principles behind the operation of Tesla’s wireless system are:
1. Low frequency alternating current can be transmitted through the inhomogeneous earth with low loss due to the fact that the net resistance between antipodes of the earth is considerably less than 1 ohm.  The electrical displacement takes place predominantly by electrical conduction through the more conductive regions.  The electrical energy also propagates through the earth by means of displacement current.
2. Low frequency high voltage alternating current can be transmitted through the atmosphere with low loss.  The electrical displacement takes place by a) electrostatic induction, b) electrical conduction, or a combination of these two.
3. The earth possesses a naturally existing negative charge or DC electrostatic potential, on the order of 400,000 volts, with respect to the conducting region of the atmosphere beginning at an elevation of about 50 kilometers, and near the earth’s surface there is a ubiquitous downward directed E-field of about 100 V/m. The Tesla coil transmitter can create a disturbance in this charge, which is manifests itself as an annular distortion of the background electric field around it.
My experiments . . . in Colorado showed that at a height of 1 mile it is plenty enough rarefied to break down under the stress and conduct the current to the distant points. . . . My patent says that I break down the atmosphere “at or near” the terminal. If my conducting atmosphere is 2 or 3 miles above the plant, I consider this very near the terminal as compared to the distance of my receiving terminal, which may be across the Pacific. . . . I have constructed and patented a form of apparatus which, with a moderate elevation of a few hundred feet, can break the air stratum down.  You will then see something like an aurora borealis across the sky, and the energy will go to the distant place. . . . An apparatus which permits displacing a certain quantity of electricity in the terminal—we shall say so many units—will produce an electric potential at a distance of 5 miles, and the fall of electric potential per centimeter will be equal to the quantity of electricity divided by the square of the distance. . . . Now, I have satisfied myself that I can construct plants in which I may produce, per kilometer of the atmosphere, electric differences of potential of something like 50,000 or 60,000 volts, and at 50,000 or 60,000 volts that atmosphere must break down and will become conductive. . . .

The earth is 4,000 miles radius.  Around this conducting earth is an atmosphere.  The earth is a conductor; the atmosphere above is a conductor, only there is a little stratum between the conducting atmosphere and the conducting earth which is insulating. . . . Now, you realize right away that if you set up differences of potential at one point, say, you will create in the media corresponding fluctuations of potential. But, since the distance from the earth’s surface to the conducting atmosphere is minute, as compared with the distance of the receiver at 4,000 miles, say, you can readily see that the energy cannot travel along this curve and get there, but will be immediately transformed into conduction currents, and these currents will travel like currents over a wire with a return.  The energy will be recovered in the circuit, not by a beam that passes along this curve and is reflected and absorbed, . . . but it will travel by conduction and will be recovered in this way.

With Additional Comments by Henry Bradford and Gary Peterson

Atmospheric Conduction Method
Energy Transmission By Means of a Spherical Conductor Transmission Line With an Upper Half-space Return Circuit.

Tesla’s ideas about electrical conduction through the “natural media” fall into two categories: closed circuit and open circuit. [Henry Bradford]

In 1932 journalist John J. O’Neill conducted an interview with Tesla in which he talked about the difference between the wireless transmission of electric energy using what Mr. Bradford describes as either “closed circuit” or “open circuit” principles.

I also asked him if he is still at work on the project which he inaugurated in the ’90’s of transmitting power wirelessly anywhere on earth.  He is at work on it, he said, and it could be put into operation. . . . He at that time announced two principles which could be used in this project.  In one the ionizing of the upper air would make it as good a conductor of electricity as a metal.  In the other the power is transmitted by creating “standing waves” in the earth by charging the earth with a giant electrical oscillator that would make the earth vibrate electrically in the same way a bell vibrates mechanically when it is struck with a hammer.  “I do not use the plan involving the conductivity of the upper strata of the air,” he said, “but I use the conductivity of the earth itself, and in this I need no wires to send electrical energy to any part of the globe.” [“Tesla Cosmic Ray Motor May Transmit Power ‘Round’ Earth,” Brooklyn Eagle, July 10, 1932.]

The closed circuit system consists of a large Tesla coil transmitter, an ionized path connecting the transmitter to the upper atmosphere, the upper atmosphere, a second ionized path connecting the upper atmosphere back down to a receiving location, and the receiver itself.  The circuit back to the transmitter is completed through the earth.  The upper atmosphere, like any low-pressure gas, is not an ohmic conductor, but will conduct electricity if broken down; i.e., ionized.  The portion of the upper atmosphere between the transmitter and the receiver would then conduct current like a neon tube of planetary proportions.  It would require a certain amount of energy to maintain the electrical discharge through it.

The earth is 4,000 miles radius.  Around this conducting earth is an atmosphere.  The earth is a conductor; the atmosphere above is a conductor, only there is a little stratum between the conducting atmosphere and the conducting earth which is insulating. . . . Now, you realize right away that if you set up differences of potential at one point, say, you will create in the media corresponding fluctuations of potential.  But, since the distance from the earth’s surface to the conducting atmosphere is minute, as compared with the distance of the receiver at 4,000 miles, say, you can readily see that the energy cannot travel along this curve and get there, but will be immediately transformed into conduction currents, and these currents will travel like currents over a wire with a return.  The energy will be recovered in the circuit, not by a beam that passes along this curve and is reflected and absorbed, . . . but it will travel by conduction and will be recovered in this way. [NIKOLA TESLA ON HIS WORK WITH ALTERNATING CURRENTS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY, TELEPHONY AND TRANSMISSION OF POWER, Leland I. Anderson, Editor, Twenty First Century Books, 1992, pp. 129-130.]

In operation, the electrical energy flowing through the air is characterized by its high voltage and low current, and through the earth by its high current and low voltage.  For any given power level, the I2 R losses in the plasma transmission line is proportional to the value of the resistance (R) of the ionized path between the two stations, and inversely proportional to the amount of current (I) flowing along this path.  The voltage drop (E) across R is given by Ohm’s law, E = IR.  There is an inverse relationship between voltage and current, so for any given load, increasing the transmission line voltage would reduce the current.  For any given load, with a constant transmission-line resistance, lowering the current that flows through the transmission line would also reduce the voltage drop.  This equates to greater transmission-line efficiency.  In Tesla’s words,

. . . by such means as have been described practically any potential that is desired may be obtained, the currents through the air strata may be rendered very small, whereby the loss in the transmission may be reduced. [SYSTEM OF TRANSMISSION OF ELECTRICAL ENERGY, Sept. 2, 1897, U.S. Patent No. 645,576, Mar. 20, 1900.]

Tesla’s wireless transmitter-receiver station was designed to develop extremely high potentials on the elevated terminal in order to minimize the loss due to the plasma transmission line resistance.

Another characteristic of the Tesla apparatus is that a high current flows in the conductor that connects the oscillator to the earth.  Looking at an entire atmospheric conduction system, each of the transmitter-receiver stations serves, in a sense, as a lever and a fulcrum that converts the power flowing through the air and ground paths. [Corum & Corum]

An independent power source is required at the receiving location to sustain the conducting path to the upper atmosphere.  Both the transmitter and the receiver have to be capable of ionizing the upper atmosphere out to some distance, in much the same way that a corona discharge ionizes the air out to a radius at which its electric field falls below the breakdown value for air, or the leader in a lightning discharge ionizes the air ahead of the bolt.

Tesla described the ionization process like this:

For example, a conductor or terminal, to which impulses such as those here considered are supplied, but which is otherwise insulated in space and is remote from any conducting-bodies, is surrounded by a luminous flame-like brush or discharge often covering many hundreds or even as much as several thousands of square feet of surface, this striking phenomenon clearly attesting the high degree of conductivity which the atmosphere attains under the influence of the immense electrical stresses to which it is subjected.  This influence is however, not confined to that portion of the atmosphere which is discernible by the eye as luminous and which, as has been the case in some instances actually observed, may fill the space within a spherical or cylindrical envelop of a diameter of sixty feet or more, but reaches out to far remote regions, the insulating qualities of the air being, as I have ascertained, still sensibly impaired at a distance many hundred times that through which the luminous discharge projects from the terminal and in all probability much farther. [SYSTEM OF TRANSMISSION OF ELECTRICAL ENERGY, Sept. 2, 1897, U.S. Patent No. 645,576, Mar. 20, 1900.]
Both wireless stations would be individually capable of ionizing the upper atmosphere in their vicinities out to distance that is based upon four physical parameters.  Tesla identified these as the “electromotive force” of the transmitted impulses, the atmospheric density, the height of the elevated terminal above the ground, “and also, apparently, in slight measure, . . . the degree of moisture contained in the air.”  By using a vertical ionizing beam the requirement for very tall towers is reduced.
I have also found it practicable to transmit notable amounts of energy through air strata not in direct contact with the transmitting and receiving terminals, but remote from them, the action of the impulses, in rendering conducting air of a density at which it normally behaves as an insulator, extending, as before remarked, to a considerable distance. . . . [Ibid.]

Tesla also spoke about instances in which the connection between the elevated terminals is, in part, by electrostatic induction.

In some cases when small amounts of energy are required the high elevation of the terminals, and more particularly of the receiving – terminal D, may not be necessary, since, especially when the frequency of the currents is very high, a sufficient amount of energy may be collected at that terminal by electrostatic induction from the upper air strata, which are rendered conducting by the active terminal of the transmitter or through which the currents from the same are conveyed. [Ibid.]
This means that a wholly conductive path between the transmitting and the receiving stations is not an absolute requirement.  A portion the transmitter’s energy can be collected at the receiver by electrostatic induction alone.  This also suggests that a flow of energy may occur between the two high-altitude ionized regions by means of electrostatic induction, that is to say, by so-called displacement current.  Once the initial atmospheric connection is established by the means of true conduction and displacement currents, each high-altitude ionized region might grow in size in the direction of its counterpart with the passage of time,

I have likewise observed that this region of decidedly-noticeable influence continuously enlarges as time goes on, and the discharge is allowed to pass not unlike a conflagration which slowly spreads, this being possibly due to the gradual electrification or ionization of the air or to the formation of less insulating gaseous compounds. [Ibid.]

To accomplish this would be a stupendous undertaking.  It strikes me that Tesla’s concept of transmitting electric power wirelessly via electrical conduction through a closed circuit consisting of the earth and the atmosphere is not promising from a practical viewpoint.  This is because of the enormous voltages needed to reach to useful distances from the transmitter through the atmosphere, and the power requirements for maintaining the air path in an ionized state.

Wireless power transmission by means of the atmospheric method appears to be feasible.  It can be accomplished exactly as Tesla said it could without violating the known laws of physics.  It has not been adopted for economic reasons, and because certain basic engineering challenges that Tesla addressed while developing the system have not been revisited.  Tesla spoke about the commercial establishment of a wireless system in which the transmitted energy is utilized in at least three different ways—high-frequency lighting, turning electric motors, and wireless telecommunications.

Wireless communications is not as demanding as the transmission of power.  Tesla seems to have favoured carrier frequencies in the range of tens of kilohertz or so, which would be reasonable for transmission of information at a useful rate.  He had in mind transmitters and receivers as those shown in his patent drawings, communicating through the earth via current from the ground terminal of the transmitter and the partially or wholly ionized path described above.  This raises the question of whether the current from the ground terminal of a Tesla transmitter, which definitely would exist, would have a range comparable to or greater than that of a radio wave from a radio transmitter of the same power and frequency, and the induced earth current that would accompany it.

The principal difference between Tesla’s system, either closed or open circuit, and open circuit low frequency radio systems is that a radio transmitter is designed primarily to emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation from its antenna, whereas the Tesla communications transmitter is designed primarily to inject an electrical current into the earth at its ground terminal.  The mode of propagation for both systems appears to me to be the same; i.e., earth currents and surface charge coupled to a vertical electric field in the Earth-ionosphere cavity.

Mr. Bradford describes the mode of propagation for both the Tesla system and LF radio systems as, “earth currents and surface charge coupled to a vertical electric field in the Earth-ionosphere cavity.”  While this is not a description of space wave electromagnetic radiation, it is, however, consistent with the definition of the electromagnetic field associated with an electrical current flowing through a transmission line.  Of course there is also a space wave component associated with the emissions of an LF radio transmitter in the form of electromagnetic radiation launched from its antenna.  Tesla argued the emissions from the great low frequency AM radio transmitters of the early 20th century were, predominantly, in the form of transmission line surface waves.

The principal difference between the Tesla-produced and radio-produced disturbances appears to be the difference in the configuration of currents and fields close to the transmitter.

The basic idea is that the earth currents and charge-coupled electromagnetic field associated with Tesla coil transmissions gradually decouple from the associated charge carriers and become ordinary radio waves as a function of the distance from the transmitter.  Mr. Bradford states,

I do not believe that the theory for it has been worked out, but in principle it is a straightforward application of electromagnetic theory.

An alternative hypothesis is one in which the configuration of the electromagnetic field associated with an ordinary radio antenna changes as it moves out of the near-field zone, as described by presently accepted antenna and propagation theory, while the configuration of the electromagnetic field associated with a Tesla coil transmitter remains unchanged as it moves out beyond the near-field zone, through the far-field zone, all the way to a well grounded phase-conjugate or synchronized Tesla coil receiver.

There are two distinctly different forms of electromagnetic-wave propagation.  The first is by means of electromagnetic radiation or ordinary radio waves, such as emitted by an ordinary dipole radio antenna.  The second is by ordinary electrical conduction, such as takes place when a current flows through a transmission-line accompanied by a charge-coupled electromagnetic field.

There are three types of transmitter-antenna excited propagation modes.  The first is by means of an ordinary radio wave launched by a dipole antenna in the form of electromagnetic radiation.  The second is a combination of the radio wave and the transmission-line charge-coupled electromagnetic wave launched by a grounded or counterpoise monopole antenna, i.e., the Marconi-type antenna, the emissions of which more or less predominate as electromagnetic radiation plus the second component.  In addition to space waves, Marconi antennas also appear to launch the type of surface wave described by Arnold Sommerfeld and Johann Zenneck.  This surface wave is different from the well-known Norton Surface Wave that is the result of the interaction of the ground wave part of a radio antenna’s radiated space wave with the earth’s surface.  The third is by means of the transmission-line wave launched by a high voltage, pulse-driven, top loaded helical resonator in the form of earth currents and a charge-coupled electromagnetic field.  A small radio-wave component might also be present, but this is viewed as an energy loss.

My guess is that at very large distances from the transmitter, the two disturbances would be indistinguishable.

If, as predicted, the two disturbances are distinctly different then the effects at a distance will be very much distinguishable.  In fact, the emissions of a Tesla coil transmitter should be practically undetectable when using an ungrounded radio receiver with a balanced magnetic loop antenna.
So it would boil down to which method of producing the disturbance is the most efficient and cost effective.  One disadvantage of very long distance radio is that VLF transmitting antennas tend to be very large and inefficient, which is one reason why long distance radio communications mostly switched from long wave to short wave in the 1930’s.  One thing bothers me.  If the Tesla earth currents propagate to long distances at low frequencies, why don’t the earth currents from the ground terminals of low frequency radio transmitters do likewise, or do they?

According to Tesla they do.  Some portion of the earth current associated with the excitation of a well-grounded LF radio-transmitting antenna propagates to great distances.

 You say radio engineers put too much energy into the radiating part. What, as a matter of fact, according to your conception, is the part of the energy that is received in the receivers in the present system? . . . To illustrate my question, take for instance the energy used at Sayville [Long Island, New York] and the reception of that at Nauen [Germany]. I want to know whether it is your idea that the reception there is due to the earth currents that you have described or to the radiated energy.

It is far more due to the earth currents than to the radiated energy. I believe, indeed, that the radiated energy alone could not possibly produce the effect across the Atlantic. It is simply because they are incidentally sending a current through the globe—which they think is their current—that the receiver is affected. The current produces variations of potential at the earth’s surface in Germany; these fluctuations of potential energize the circuit, and by resonance they increase the potential there and operate the receiver. But I do not mean that it is absolutely impossible to use my apparatus and operate with electromagnetic waves across the Atlantic or Pacific. I only say that according to calculations, for instance, which I have made of the Sayville plant, the radiated energy is very small and cannot be operative. I have also calculated the distribution of the charge on the antenna. I am told that the Sayville antenna is without abrupt changes of capacity. It is impossible. There are changes even in a cylindrical antenna; but particularly in that form at Sayville—there are very abrupt changes. [NIKOLA TESLA ON HIS WORK WITH ALTERNATING CURRENTS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY, TELEPHONY AND TRANSMISSION OF POWER, Leland I. Anderson, Editor, Twenty First Century Books, 1992, pp. 142.]

A grounded radio transmitter generates an earth current, and observations of it might help to answer questions about the range of earth currents.  However, distinguishing current from the ground terminal from earth current induced by the radio wave (or part of the wave, depending on how you look at it) might be difficult.  The two types of earth current might be distinguishable because earth current from the ground terminal of a radio transmitter should be free from the variations in the strength of the radio wave (e.g., day-night) caused by the ionosphere.  I am not aware of such observations.  On the other hand, VLF to MF radio transmitters often use some sort of counterpoise instead of a ground connection, and do not produce an earth current directly.  The most reliable answers would come from a computer analysis.

It is conceivable that a powerful Tesla coil earth resonance transmitter operated at a non-earth-resonance frequency might result in the creation of radio waves somewhat as predicted by Mr. Bradford.  In the operation of a Tesla coil transmitter, earth resonance results from the constructive interference of outgoing Tesla waves with the reflection of preceding Tesla waves returning from the antipode.  If the transmission frequency were to be precisely adjusted so that the interference were to be wholly destructive instead of constructive, then radio waves might result.  Going out on a limb even further, rather than a gradual transition from Tesla waves to Hertz waves with an increase in distance from the transmitter, the radio wave emissions would be global in nature and ubiquitous.

“The chief engineer shook his head slowly, “all radio stations went off the air at seven-fifty-one, and nobody can discover why.  We’ve called the electronic laboratory of the State Science Institute.  They said it looks like radio waves, but of a frequency never produced before, never observed anywhere, never discovered by anybody.  It looks like a wall of radio waves jamming the air, and we can’t get through it, we can’t touch it, we can’t break it.  What’s more, we can’t locate its source, not by any of our usual methods.  Those waves seem to come from a transmitter that makes any known to us look like a child’s toy!  That’s it, Dr. Stadler, it can’t be possible, it shouldn’t be possible, but there it is.” [Atlas Shrugged]

Ionospheric effects like the day-night variations indicate that the radio signal received is mainly accounted for by radio waves.  Is it that low frequency radio transmitters generally use counterpoises rather than actual earth connections?  Is it that the currents from the ground terminals of the transmitters (as opposed to induced currents in the electrical disturbance in the Earth-ionosphere cavity; see the next section) do not propagate to a significant distance?  Once again, the answers to these questions, like all the other questions, could be found theoretically by straightforward computations made on a realistic model of the transmitter, receiver, and intervening medium.

Construction and operation of full-size Tesla transmitting and receiving apparatus, as described in his patents and elsewhere, would also facilitate this computer analysis.  The creation of a realistic model demands the collection of empirical data related to the performance of actual functioning Tesla coil transmitters, and active and passive Tesla coil receivers.  At the same time these data were being collected it might be shown that radio waves are not involved with the transfer of electrical energy between the Tesla transmitting and receiving stations.  This would be attempted using a radio receiver with a balanced magnetic loop antenna, which is tunable to the Tesla coil transmitter’s operating frequency.  The radio receiver’s antenna would be configured in such a way so that would interact more efficiently with radio waves than it would with the non-radiating emissions of the Tesla coil transmitter.  Grounded monopole and low-counterpoise radio antennas could not be used.  Even the vertical 1/2-wave dipole antenna, with or without loading coils and suspended high above the ground to minimize capacitive coupling to the earth might be compromised in its performance.  Appropriate antennas for this purpose are the tuned air loop antenna and the tuned ferrite loop-stick antenna.

The Schumann Cavity Resonance Hypothesis
Proposed Energy Transmission By Means of a Concentric Spherical Shell Waveguide
Tesla spoke about the wireless transmission of electric energy utilizing some type of terrestrial resonance mode.  Three different forms of terrestrial resonance have been identified.  These are the “single-wire transmission line” resonances (for lack of a better term), the transverse cavity resonances, and the Schumann cavity resonances.  As their names suggest, the latter two are resonances that can be excited in the concentric spherical shell waveguide formed from the earth and the ionosphere.  Of these three, only transmission systems utilizing the transmission line resonances and the Schumann resonances are under consideration for power transmission.  Both mechanisms fall under Mr. Bradford’s so-called “open circuit” category.

Natural lightning excites the Schumann resonances.  They are observed at the lowest few resonance frequencies (about 8 Hertz and multiples of that).  Their measured Q’s of order 5 – 10 suggest that the electrical disturbances produced by lightning make a few circuits of the Earth before damping out, and create a fairly definite terrestrial standing wave of a few cycles duration.  What is wanted for wireless transmission of power is for the electrical load connected to the receiver to draw power from the transmitter via the standing wave.  I.e., when the load is switched on, the transmitter should “feel” the load, as it would in a closed circuit, and respond by providing more power via the standing wave.  According to my estimates, this would require an Earth-ionosphere cavity Q of order ~10^6 or 10^7 at the lowest Schumann resonance frequencies, whereas it appears the actual value is more like 5 or 10.  Cavity Q is defined here as the ratio of the electric field energy stored in the Earth-ionosphere cavity per cycle of the oscillation to the average power input to the cavity from the transmitter.

This estimate of the required Q is based on the requirement that the current induced in the input impedance of the receiver should reciprocally induce power in the output impedance of the transmitter similar to the power that was transmitted initially.  This is a way of expressing the coupling between the transmitter and receiver required for the transmitter to “feel” the load on the receiver.  The Q in my estimate is the value that produces an electric field in the cavity strong enough to induce the required current in the input impedance of the receiver.  At higher frequencies, the required Q is larger, but I expect that the Q of the Earth-ionosphere cavity probably decreases because propagation losses in the Earth and ionosphere increase.  So my opinion is that Schumann electrical oscillations would not allow efficient transfer of power from the transmitter to the receiver over long distances.

The concept of transferring power with small losses in this manner will not work because the standing wave would occur in the Earth-ionosphere cavity, which is too lossy (Q too small) to enable a standing wave of sufficient amplitude to be generated. This limitation is independent of the power of the transmitter.  In order for the transmitter to feed power to the receiver as efficiently as it would in a closed low-loss circuit, the power transferred to the receiver should be able to transfer power of the same order of magnitude reciprocally to the transmitter.  This is a necessary condition for the transmitter to “feel” the load connected to the receiver, and to supply power to it via the standing wave.  In order to do this, the required Q of the Earth-ionosphere cavity is of the order of 10^6 or so at the lowest Earth-ionosphere cavity Schumann resonant frequency of about 8 Hz, according to my estimates, whereas measurements based on the spectrum of natural electrical radio noise yield a Q of only about 5 to 10.  I believe that the situation only gets worse at higher frequencies because of increasing energy losses in the earth and ionosphere, as is the case in radio transmission.
In my opinion the reason Tesla believed that he could generate very high Q whole-earth oscillations was that he did not know about the existence of the ionosphere and its damping effect.  He also dismissed the practicality of long-range radio because he was unaware of the ionosphere and its reflecting properties.

On the other hand, it has been pointed out that wireless energy transmission using the concentric spherical shell model, as discussed above, is not consistent with the Tesla type transmitter.

The conceptual difficulty with this model is that, at the very low frequencies that Tesla said that he employed (1-50 kHz), earth-ionosphere waveguide excitation, now well understood, would seem to be impossible with the either the Colorado Springs or the Long Island apparatus (at least with the apparatus that is visible in the photographs of these facilities). [“Spherical Transmission Lines and Global Propagation, An Analysis of Tesla’s Experimentally Determined Propagation Model,” K. L. Corum, J. F. Corum, Ph.D., and J. F. X. Daum, Ph.D. 1996, p. 10.]

The maximum recommended operating frequencies of 25 kHz as specified by Tesla is far above the highest easily observable Schumann resonance mode (the 9th overtone) that exists at approximately 66.4 Hz.  Tesla’s selection of 25 kHz is wholly inconsistent with the operation of a system that is based upon the excitation of a Schumann resonance mode.

Another terrestrial propagation mode is far more promising.

The Earth Resonance Method
Energy Transmission By Means of a Spherical Conductor “Single-wire” Surface Wave Transmission Line

The type of transmitter used to excite this propagation mode is described and illustrated in Tesla’s patent ART OF TRANSMITTING ELECTRICAL ENERGY THROUGH THE NATURAL MEDIUMS, May 16, 1900, U.S. Patent No. 787,412, Apr. 18, 1905 and elsewhere. It is essentially the same as the transmitter used for the atmospheric conduction method, connected to the ground and to an elevated terminal, with the elevated terminal having the modified spherical shape seen in a number of photographs and artistic renderings of the Wardenclyffe wireless station prototype.  A similar rendering of a Wardenclyffe-type structure appears in the specifications of Tesla’s APPARATUS FOR TRANSMITTING ELECTRICAL ENERGY, Jan. 18, 1902, U.S. Patent 1,119,732, Dec. 1, 1914 in which this terminal is drawn as a modified torus.

It is apparent from documents on file at the U.S. Patent Office pertaining to U.S. Patent No. 787,412 that Tesla collected actual performance data.  In response to a question from U.S. Patent Examiner G.C. Dean regarding three stated requirements that, “seem essential to the establishment of the resonating condition” Tesla’s attorneys responded,

These three requirements, as stated are in agreement with his numerous experimental observations.  .  .  .  we would point out that the specification does not deal with theories, but with facts which applicant has experimentally observed and demonstrated again and again, and in the commercial exploitation of which he is engaged. [“Spherical Transmission Lines and Global Propagation, An Analysis of Tesla’s Experimentally Determined Propagation Model,” K. L. Corum, J. F. Corum, Ph.D., and J. F. X. Daum, Ph.D. 1996, p. 3n.]

Tesla determined that the time required for a transmitted pulse or wave train to travel from the transmitter to the antipode and back again is .08484 seconds.  This equates to a fundamental earth resonance frequency of 11.786892 Hz.  He believed that by incorporating a portion of the earth as part of a powerful earth-resonance Tesla coil transmitter an electrical disturbance could be impressed upon the earth and detected, “at great distance, or even all over the surface of the globe.”

Tesla also made an assumption that Earth is a charged body floating in space.

A point of great importance would be first to know what is the capacity of the earth? and what charge does it contain if electrified?  Though we have no positive evidence of a charged body existing in space without other oppositely electrified bodies being near, there is a fair probability that the earth is such a body, for by whatever process it was separated from other bodies—and this is the accepted view of its origin—it must have retained a charge, as occurs in all processes of mechanical separation. [ON LIGHT AND OTHER HIGH FREQUENCY PHENOMENA , Nikola Tesla, Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, 1894, pp. 294-373.]

Tesla was familiar with demonstrations that involved the charging of Leiden jar capacitors and isolated metal spheres with electrostatic influence machines.  By bringing these elements into close proximity with each other, and also by making direct contact followed by their separation the charge can be manipulated.  He surely had this in mind in the creation of his mental image, not being able to know that the model of Earth’s origin was inaccurate.  The presently accepted model of planetary origin is one of accretion and collision.

If it be a charged body insulated in space its capacity should be extremely small, less than one-thousandth of a farad. [Ibid.]

We now know that Earth is, in fact, a charged body, made so by processes—at least in part—related to an interaction of Earth’s magnetosphere with the continuous stream of negatively charged particles called the solar wind, flowing outward from the center of our solar system.

But the upper strata of the air are conducting, and so, perhaps, is the medium in free space beyond the atmosphere, and these may contain an opposite charge.  Then the capacity might be incomparably greater. [Ibid.]

We also know one of the upper strata of Earth’s atmosphere, the ionosphere, is conducting. In any case it is of the greatest importance to get an idea of what quantity of electricity the earth contains. [Ibid.]

Earth possesses a naturally existing negative charge with respect to the conducting region of the atmosphere beginning at an elevation of about 50 kilometers.  The potential difference between the earth and this region is on the order of 400,000 volts.  Near the earth’s surface there is a ubiquitous downward directed E-field of about 100 V/m.  In LIGHTNING PROTECTOR, May 6, 1916, U.S. Patent 1,266,175, May 14, 1918 Tesla referred to this charge as the “electric niveau” or electric level.
It is difficult to say whether we shall ever acquire this necessary knowledge, but there is hope that we may, and that is, by means of electrical resonance.  If ever we can ascertain at what period the earth’s charge, when disturbed, oscillates with respect to an oppositely electrified system or known circuit, we shall know a fact possibly of the greatest importance to the welfare of the human race.  I propose to seek for the period by means of an electrical oscillator, or a source of alternating electric currents. . . .  [Ibid.]

A Tesla coil earth resonance transmitter creates a local disturbance in the earth’s charge that manifests itself as an annular deviation in the density of the background electric field.  This disturbance propagates away from the transmitter and diminishes in intensity as the distance from the transmitter increases.  A sufficiently powerful transmitter produces a field distortion that propagates all the way to the antipode, at which point the energy is reflected back towards its point of origin.  The transmission of electrical energy across the entire globe and its reflection all the way back to its source is the basis of Tesla’s earth resonance method.

While the atmospheric conduction method requires that both transmitting and receiving apparatus be placed into operation, a properly tuned and sufficiently powerful earth resonance transmitter, on the other hand, can be made to operate exactly as intended without any man-made Tesla-type receivers being activated.  The earth itself fulfills the important requirement that a synchronized receiver be present.

Long-distance wireless transmission by means of the Atmospheric Conduction Method is quite feasible, defying none of the known laws of physics.  The hypothesized Schumann Cavity Resonance Method, unto itself, is totally unworkable.  Wireless transmission by means of the Earth Resonance Method may be possible, a feasibility study using a sufficiently powerful and properly tuned Tesla coil earth-resonance transmitter being called for.


Advanced Concepts for Wireless Energy Transfer
BY Prof. Dr.-Ing. Konstantin Meyl

It will be shown that scalar waves, normally remaining unnoticed, are very interesting in practical use for information and energy technology for reason of their special attributes. The mathematical and physical derivations are supported by practical experiments. The demonstration will show:

1. the wireless transmission of electrical energy,
2. the reaction of the receiver to the transmitter,
3. free energy with an over-unity-effect of about 3,
4. transmission of scalar waves with 1.5 times the speed of light,
5. the inefficiency of a Faraday cage to shield scalar waves.

Tesla radiation
Here is shown extraordinary science, five experiments, which are incompatible with textbook physics. Following my short lecture I will present you the transmission of longitudinal electric waves.

It is a historical experiment, because already 100 years ago the famous experimental physicist Nikola Tesla has measured the same wave properties, as me. From him stems a patent concerning the wireless transmission of energy (1900)1. Since he also had to find out that at the receiver arrives very much more energy, than the transmitter takes up, he spoke of a „Magnifying Transmitter“. By the effect back on the transmitter Tesla sees, if he has found the resonance of the earth and that lies according to his measurement at 12 Hz. Since the Schumann resonance of a wave, which goes with the speed of light, however lies at 7.8 Hz, Tesla comes to the conclusion, that his wave has 1.5 times the speed of light2.

As founder of the diathermy Tesla already has pointed to the biological effectiveness and to the possible use in medicine. The diathermy of today has nothing to do with the Tesla radiation; it uses the wrong wave and as a consequence hardly has a medical importance.

The discovery of the Tesla radiation is denied and isn’t mentioned in the textbooks anymore. For that there are two reasons:
1. No high school ever has rebuilt a „Magnifying Transmitter“. The technology simply was too costly and too expensive. In that way the results have not been reproduced, as it is imperative for an acknowledgement. I have solved this problem by the use of modern electronics, by replacing the spark gap generator with a function generator and the operation with high-tension with 2-4 Volts low-tension. I sell the experiment as a demonstration-set so that it is reproduced as often as possible. It fits in a case and has been sold more than 200 times. Some universities already could confirm the effects. The measured degrees of effectiveness lie between 140 and 1000 percent.
2. The other reason, why this important discovery could fall into oblivion, is to be seen in the missing of a suitable field description. The Maxwell equations in any case only describe transverse waves, for which the field pointers oscillate perpendicular to the direction of propagation, as I have just explained.

Vortex model
The Tesla experiment and my historical rebuild however show more. Such longitudinal waves obviously exist even without plasma in the air and even in vacuum. The question thus is asked, what the divergence E describes in this case? How is the impulse passed on, so that a longitudinal standing wave can form? How should a shock wave come about, if there are no particles which can push each other? I have solved this question, by extending Maxwell’s field theory for vortices of the electric field. These so-called potential vortices are able to form structure and they propagate in space for reason of their particle nature as a longitudinal shock wave. The model concept bases on the ring vortex model of Hermann von Helmholtz, which Lord Kelvin did make popular. In my books3 the mathematical and physical derivation is described.

In spite of the field theoretical set of difficulties every physicist at first will seek for a conventional explanation. He will try two approaches:

Resonant circuit interpretation
Tesla had presented his experiment among others to Lord Kelvin and he already 100 years ago has spoken of a vortex transmission. In the opinion of Kelvin it however by no means concerns a wave but radiation. He had recognized clearly, that every radio technical interpretation had to fail, because alone the course of the field lines is a completely different one.

If both electrodes of the capacitor are pulled apart, then between both is stretching an electric field. The field lines start at one sphere, the transmitter, and they bundle up again at the receiver. In that way a higher degree of effectiveness and a very tight coupling can be expected. In this manner without doubt some of the effects can be explained, but not all.

The inductance is split up in two air transformers, which are wound completely identical. If a fed in sinusoidal tension voltage is transformed up in the transmitter, then it is again transformed down at the receiver. The output voltage should be smaller or at maximum equal the input voltage– but it is substantially bigger! There can be drawn and calculated an alternative wiring diagram, but in no case the measurable result comes out, that light-emitting diodes at the receiver glow brightly (U>2Volt), whereas at the same time the corresponding light-emitting diodes at the transmitter go out (U<2Volt)! To check this both coils are exchanged.

The measured degree of effectiveness lies despite the exchange at more than 100 percent. If the law of conservation of energy should not be violated, then only one interpretation is left: The open capacitor withdraws field energy from its environment. Without consideration of this circumstance does the error deviation of every conventional model calculation lie at more than 90 percent. There one rather should do without the calculation. It will concern oscillating fields, because the spherical electrodes are changing in polarity with a frequency of approx. 7 MHz. They are operated in resonance. The condition for resonance reads: identical frequency and opposite phase. The transmitter obviously modulates the field in its environment, while the receiver collects everything what fulfils the condition for resonance.

Also in the open question for the transmission velocity of the signal the resonant circuit interpretation fails. But the HF-technician still has another explanation at the tip of his tongue:

Near field interpretation
In the near field of an antenna effects are measured, which on the one hand go as inexplicable, because they evade the normally used field theory, which on the other hand come the by me shown scalar wave effects very close. Everyone knows a practical application: e.g. at the entrance of department stores, where the customer has to go through in between of scalar wave detectors.

New problems will occur to the HF-specialist, when in my experiment the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is 10-times more than the near zone. Students of the TU-Berlin have shown and proofed this. Tesla as well had demonstrated a power transmission over 30 miles, whereas his near field was less than half a mile. I have shown how vortices are forming and how they come off the dipole, that the fields in the near zone of a Hertzian dipole are longitudinal scalar wave fields. But the scalar waves of Tesla and of my experiment show even more.

The vortex decay however depends on the velocity of propagation. Calculated at the speed of light the vortices already have decayed within half the wavelength. The faster the velocity, the more stable they get, to remain stable above 1.6 times the velocity. These very fast vortices contract in the dimensions. They now can tunnel. Therefore speed faster than light occurs at the tunnel effect. Therefore no Faraday cage is able to shield fast vortices.

Since these field vortices with particle nature following the high-frequency oscillation permanently change their polarity from positive to negative and back, they do not have a charge on the average over time. As a result they almost unhindered penetrate solids. Particles with this property are called neutrinos in physics. The field energy which is collected in my experiment, according to that stems from the neutrino radiation which surrounds us. Because the source of this radiation, all the same if the origin is artificial or natural, is far away of my receiver, every attempt of a near field interpretation goes wrong.

At the function generator I adjust frequency and amplitude of the sinusoidal signal, with which the transmitter is operated. At the frequency regulator I turn so long, till the light-emitting diodes at the receiver glow brightly, whereas those at the transmitter go out. Now an energy transmission takes place.

If the amplitude is reduced so far, till it is guaranteed that no surplus energy is radiated, then in addition a gain of energy takes place by energy amplification.

If I take down the receiver by pulling out the earthing, then the lighting up of the LED´s signals the mentioned effect back on the transmitter. The transmitter thus feels, if its signal is received.

The self-resonance of the Tesla coils, according to the frequency counter, lies at 7 MHz. Now the frequency is ran down and see there, at approx. 4.7 MHz the receiver again glows, but less bright, easily shieldable and without discernible effect back on the transmitter. Now we unambiguously are dealing with the transmission of the Hertzian part and that goes with the speed of light. Since the wavelength was not changed, does the proportion of the frequencies determine the proportion of the velocities of propagation. The scalar wave according to that goes with (7/4.7=) 1.5 times the speed of light!

If I put the transmitter into the aluminium case and close the door, then nothing should arrive at the receiver. Expert laboratories for electromagnetic compatibility in this case indeed cannot detect anything and that, although in spite of that the receiver lamps glow! By turning of the receiver coil it can be verified that an electric and not a magnetic coupling is present although the Faraday cage should shield electric fields. The scalar wave obviously overcomes the cage with a speed faster than light, by tunnelling!

1 Nikola Tesla: Apparatus for transmission of electrical energy.
US-Patent No. 645,576, N.Y. 20.3.1900.
2 Nikola Tesla: Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums, US-Patent No. 787,412, N.Y. 18.4.1905.
3 Konstantin Meyl: Scalar Waves, INDEL-Verlag.

Konstantin Meyl
email: meyl [at] k-meyl [dot] de


With the current RFID technology the transfer of energy takes place on a chip card by means of longitudinal wave components in close range of the transmitting antenna. Those are scalar waves, which spread towards the electrical or the magnetic field pointer. In the wave equation with reference to the Maxwell field equations, these wave components are set to zero, why only postulated model computations exist, after which the range is limited to the sixth part of the wavelength. A goal of this paper is to create, by consideration of the scalar wave components in the wave equation, the physical conditions for the development of scalar wave transponders which are operable beyond the close range. The energy is transferred with the same carrier wave as the information and not over two separated ways as with RFID systems. Besides the bi-directional signal transmission, the energy transfer in both directions is additionally possible because of the resonant coupling between transmitter and receiver. First far range transponders developed on the basis of the extended field equations are already functional as prototypes, according to the US-Patent No. 787,412 of Nikola Tesla, New York 1905 [1].

[title credit : caution]

Leave a Reply