On July 10, N1FD members gathered in Cornish, NH to activate the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site as part of the ARRL’s year-long National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We almost canceled it due to a prediction of thunderstorms, but the weather changed to merely intermittent showers, which we didn’t let get in our way.
While the rain was still very light, the advance crew was able to set up the canopy that was last used as the food tent during our recent Field Day operation. It was more than adequate to keep the 100W station and a handful of club members dry throughout the day. The site was on the edge of the meadow (a/k/a the reserve parking area) near the entrance to the Ravine Trail which was furthest from the buildings.
With the next carload of club members and a pneumatic launcher, we were able to put a line over the branch of a tree along the edge of the meadow and use it to hoist up a 20m dipole in an inverted “V” configuration. It only had to be lowered and raised a couple of times to tune it, and we got it right on the mark using an antenna analyzer.
A small, quiet generator was also set up on the edge of the field to provide power. This 20m antenna and generator were used on the 100W station, an IC-7300.
A second station, Fred AB1OC’s 500W mobile station, was parked midway across the field towards the road and operated on 40m. I don’t know how many NPOTA activations have had multiple stations running at once, but a number of hams worked us on both bands.
Unlike our visits earlier in the year, park operations were in full swing for the season. All of the buildings were open to visitors. The park’s Resident Artist for this summer was working on a clay original to later be cast in bronze, and he paused to talk to us about his work. Club members were able to explore other modern sculpture, and also the sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, that is on exhibit throughout the grounds. A number of members walked the Ravine Trail, which descended into a deep ravine (what did you expect?) to a stream and a swimming hole used by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his family and others who worked at the studios. People were also able to enjoy a bit of the Sunday afternoon concert.
Not too far from where our 20-meter station was, Mike K1WVO spotted a tiny salamander, a Red Eft, crawling across the forest floor. I’m not sure, but I suspect that a few Pokémon were also spotted in the park!
We also had some special visitors: a ham from California whose daughter worked at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park across the river in Vermont, and a local ham who worked us and then drove over for an eyeball QSO.
The rain continued off and on throughout the day, but it was never heavy — certainly not heavy enough to dampen the spirits of the Nashua ARC members who were too busy making or helping to log QSOs to notice it. The group logged a total of 528 QSOs in a little over 4 hours! At the end of the day, the equipment was quickly broken down and packed up, just in time for the rain to completely stop and the skies to clear for a pleasant drive home.
We’re hoping that you and your family can join us for the next activation of this park on August 7!