The W6AM station was legendary around the world. Don could beat you in a pileup for some obscure African station no matter what band, and even if you were on the east coast. And him in Southern California.
Don was #1 on ARRL's DXCC Honor Roll, and you didn't argue. No matter where you were, no matter what you were running, Don had beaten you in a pileup. More than once.
One summer afternoon in 1986, a bunch of us in the Southern California Contest Club were just wrapping up a club meeting at our usual haunt at a pizza parlor. Jim Neiger, N6TJ invited us to follow him to Don's place for an impromptu tour. Don had passed away the previous spring at age 86 (May 25, 1985), and Jim was the caretaker of the property at the time. A few had other obligations but the rest of us asked, "are you kidding?!" And off we went, a caravan of SCCCers following Jim on the freeway from San Fernando Valley to Rolling Hills, where the king of Southern California DXing had lived. I had goose bumps all over as I drove up in my vintage 1967 Mustang fastback. On my own turf, I felt like I was half a somebody. In Rolling Hills, I felt like an ant. Microscopic. A nobody visiting a god. Or at least ham radio heaven.
The station was well beyond anything I had imagined. Radios, wires, awards, certificates, pictures and oh yes, antennas galore. It was well beyond the most amazing amateur radio installation I had ever dreamed of. I was obviously in the ultimate DX station of all time.
Most of us can only dream of having a rhombic antenna. Don had 14 of these things! 61 telephone poles supported his antennas, scattered around 120 acres. Another 110 poles carried the feedlines to the antennas. The installation dwarfed all other amateur radio installations.
On this web site, you will find pictures from the trip that summer day. I wasn't much of a photographer, and had a pretty lousy camera, but I'm sure you will enjoy the photos none the less. You will also find some reminiscing by others, and other miscellaneous items. Enjoy!
A story about the proposed sale of the W6AM property appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 1, 1986. Click here to view the article.SPECIAL NOTE: (25 May 2008)
ARRL has acquired original copies of the book 'W6AM AMATEUR RADIO'S PIONEER' by Jan Perkins, N6AW. The League is offering these at a great price. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Don's history as well as the history of amateur radio. Click here.