There’s a really excellent chance that you’ve driven by it at least a handful of times, but we’re going to guess you’ve never stopped to look at it or to soak in its significance. After all, who stops on the side of the road to stare at a metal tower? Curious, history-loving people, that’s who.

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Situated in downtown Binghamton by Binghamton’s Lackawanna Train Station stands a giant tower, and would you believe, the magnitude of history wrapped up in the tower is greater than you might ever have imagined.

While artist and inventor Samuel F.B. Morse invented Morse Code in the 1830s, it would be a gentleman by the name of Guglielmo Marconi who would invent a way to send messages using Morse code wirelessly.

Guglielmo Marconi was a brilliant Italian physicist who would change the world in unbelievable ways. Marconi was able to create a system that sent Morse code messages around the world. As a matter of fact, it would be Marconi’s system that would send out a cry for help from the Titanic that fateful day which read, “SOS… TITANIC SINKING, PLEASE RUSH ALL POSSIBLE ASSISTANCE, RUSH, RUSH.”

Marconi figured if a message could be sent from a huge ship he might as well set out to see if the same could be done with a high-speed train moving through a mountainous area. In the summer of 1913, a wireless transmitting and receiving station was built at Binghamton’s Lackawanna Train Station. Two 97-foot tall steel towers were built on either side of the train station. Four cables ran from the tops of the towers and created an antenna.

On the second floor of the train station, a sending and receiving station was installed. Sixty-five miles to the south of Binghamton, another wireless station was constructed in Scranton, Pennsylvania. A third station was installed on a train called the “Lackawanna Limited.”

On November 21, 1913, the very first wireless messages (very similar to the text messages we send today) were exchanged by train at the train stations in Binghamton, Scranton, and with a train that was traveling at 60 miles an hour in between the two cities. At the time, these wireless messages were called aerograms and they were sent in Morse code.

Marconi’s discovery opened up a whole new world of communication. Binghamton’s Marconi tower is the last one of its kind that still stands and on October 9, 1998, it was adorned with its very own New York State Historical Marker.

Which brings us to another subject – who adorned our famous Marconi tower with a shadow monkey and why? Wasn't it terrifying to climb the tower?

David Hermanovitch
David Hermanovitch

Friends who work near the Marconi tower at the Lackawanna Train Station tell me that the shadow money randomly appeared one day and nobody has a clue how it got there or why.

I suppose we can figure out the how part (it obviously involved some finagling and someone who isn't afraid of heights). The bigger question is why? We’re not complaining because it’s silly to look up and see a monkey swinging from the tower but curiosity has the best of us and we’re dying to know the back story. If you've got the scoop, send us an email and fill us in!

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