Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fort McHenry Radio


This isn't really photography related, but I thought I'd post something about it since I can't seem to find it elsewhere on the Internet. One dark, early morning commuting through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, I noticed that certain radio stations would stay on the air even as I was passing through the tunnel. "Surely not,"1 I thought to myself; I was underground, under the water. There must be a repeater.

I pointed this out to a friend of mine, and he figured that since the stations coming through were from Baltimore, maybe they had enough power to make it into the tunnel. I had my doubts, but I didn't have any evidence to the contrary.

A few months ago I was driving through the tunnel yet again, but this time I'd left the radio in scan mode since none of my presets had anything good on. Sure enough, the tuner landed on 107.1 MHz about half way through the tunnel. A female voice simply repeated, "This is the Maryland Transportation Authority radio rebroadcast system for bore 3 of the Fort McHenry Tunnel. This is only a test."

So not only is there a repeater for the tunnel, there's actually one for each bore of the tunnel. I haven't done an exhaustive search for stations that they're repeating, but so far I've found 100.7 and 102.7. I'm sure there are more.

I also haven't checked to see if there's something similar for the Harbor Tunnel. My guess is that it's really there to provide emergency broadcasts to people that might be stuck in the tunnel during the regular bumper-to-bumper delays. Obviously it also provides entertainment, probably helps relieve some people's claustrophobia, and may give workers something to listen to while they're doing maintenance.

Ok, that was a lot of words for not a lot of content. The picture above was taken (haphazardly) with a Leica M6 on Kodak Tri-X. Normally I wouldn't post such a poor photo, but it seems to capture a bit of the grittiness of commuting in this area. It's also my only photo that's remotely relevant to this article.

Happy shooting and commuting!

1Insert Airplane quote here.

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