Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /homepages/11/d132647312/htdocs/Amfone/mkportal/include/SMF/smf_out.php on line 47
The Forty-fourth Anniversary of the 1965 Great Northeast Blackout




 
The AM Forum
November 30, 2021, 04:46:21 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 
   Home   Help Calendar Links Staff List Gallery Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: The Forty-fourth Anniversary of the 1965 Great Northeast Blackout  (Read 12324 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
WA2TTP Steve
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 240


« on: November 09, 2009, 02:00:03 AM »

Forty-fourth Anniversary of the 1965 Great Northeast Blackout

Where were you when the lights went out? Maybe not born yet but in my case in New York City in the lower Manhattan area. I was in my first year of technical school and at 5:27 PM on Nov 9th the lights flickered got bright then dim and just faded to black. We all went to the windows to see how much of the area was out. It was dark as far as we could see. We waited a short while to see if the power was coming back then most of us left to see what was going on.

My buddies and I walked over to 8th Ave and it obvious that this was a big problem. Dark buildings, no street lights or traffic lights as far the eye could see up and down the avenue. We decided to walk up to Penn Station at 34th St to see if any trains were running out to Long Island where some of us lived. On the way we looked down into stairs leading to the 8th Ave subway station at 14th St. it was the darkest thing Id ever seen! We continued to Penn where we found out the blackout was covering most of Northeast. We stopped into one of the bars and over a beer we decided to walk across Manhattan to the 59th St Bridge to Queens and then up to Astoria where one of guys lived and had a car to drive the rest of us out to Long Island. I tried to call my Mom before we left but the phones were totally jammed. When you picked up the pay phone all you heard were what sounded like dozens of conversations going on at one time but no dial tone.

It took about 4 hours to get from the school to Astoria, about 7 miles; we witnessed no crime at all. Later reports said there was very little crime during the blackout. Times have sure changed! When we got there my friends Mom made us some dinner, she had a gas stove, and I was able to get a call to my Mom. I got home around midnight. I felt pretty lucky to have gotten home. Many people got stuck in high rise buildings, subways, elevators and trains under the rivers around Manhattan.


It was a night Ill never forget.

Steve,
WA2TTP

Logged
k4kyv
Contributing Member
Don
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 10062



« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2009, 04:41:25 AM »

I was in Syracuse, NY, attending a course in international studies at the university, and living in on-campus apartment.

I recall the lights starting to dim very slowly as the voltage gradually approached zero.  The power was off throughout the evening, but by the time I woke up the next morning, it had been fully restored.  It was kind of exciting that evening, with a lot of partying going on by candlelight, but by the next day it was no big deal.
Logged

Don, K4KYV                                       AMI#5
Licensed since 1959 and not happy to be back on AM...    Never got off AM in the first place.

- - -
This message was typed using the DVORAK keyboard layout.
http://www.mwbrooks.com/dvorak
AJ1G
Contributing
Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1180


« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2009, 06:06:52 AM »

I was a 13 year old JN, about a year away from my Novice ticket.  Was in the basement working on a phono amp that had a pair of 6L6Gs.  All of a sudden everything went black except for the dim glow of the dying 6L6G filaments, and my mother yelled down from the kitchen, "Chris, what did you do now?"  I remember thinking "What the heck caused THAT?".  I thought something in the amp went out in a big way and somehow tripped the main breaker on our power panel.
Logged

Chris, AJ1G
Stonington, CT
WA1GFZ
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 11152



« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2009, 07:48:01 AM »

I had just returned from my friend's house. Billy lived on top of the highest hill in town and we had an electronics lab where we usually jammed his sistor's radio for sport. We had antennas between tha poles that used to bring power to the barn.
The first thing my mother said was, Were you and billy up on any poles today. She was convinced we took down the grid. I was guilty until the news came on my 6 transistor Sears radio.
Logged
n2bc
Contributing
Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 290


« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2009, 08:18:38 AM »

I don't remember where I was that day.   A few years later, working for IBM, I picked up a new account - the Robert Moses generating station in Niagara Falls, right across the gorge from the Sir Adam Beck plant where the blackout started.  On one of my visits to the Moses plant I had the pleasure of a total 'cook's tour' from the chief engineer.

He recalled looking out his dining room window, to see (or not see) something that had never happened in his many years at the plant - total darkness in the switchyard.

I was installing a specially designed box that communicated status data to the Albany, NY center of the Power Pool of NY.  Until that time there was no central data on the 8 NY owned generating stations.

The big activity at Robert Moses at the time was the retrofit of two of the 13 generators with pneumatically operated gates for the outer generators. There was a small catch-22 built into the plant... they needed power to open the gates in order to generate power, that normally came throm their connection to the Sir Adam Beck plant!
Logged
WA3VJB
Guest
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2009, 08:28:36 AM »

Yeah, this happened around dinner time, and we usually watched Cronkite and the news.

I was at home and we were setting for dinner if I recall right, and the television went out. Not our TV, but the network feed. There was the CBS "eye," full screen, but it was drawn with a crack through it, like Humpty Dumpty, I recall, and it said "TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES"

"PLEASE STAND BY"

Stayed that way for the longest time, very strange.

I don't remember being aware of any television news coverage of it at the time, but I remember pictures and stories in the newspaper the next day.


Logged
Ken - K2UPI
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2009, 08:56:27 AM »

I was working for New York Telephone in Syracuse, N.Y. operating IBM 1401 and 360
computer systems on the midnight shift.  Our building had no back up generators and
it took the better part of the next day to retrieve all the lost data and get things back
on line. (80/80 punch cards and reel tape in those days)  Lotsa fun  Tongue Grin

Ken/K2UPI
Logged
W2XR
Contributing
Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 888



« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2009, 09:52:57 AM »

I don't remember where I was that day.   A few years later, working for IBM, I picked up a new account - the Robert Moses generating station in Niagara Falls, right across the gorge from the Sir Adam Beck plant where the blackout started.  On one of my visits to the Moses plant I had the pleasure of a total 'cook's tour' from the chief engineer.

He recalled looking out his dining room window, to see (or not see) something that had never happened in his many years at the plant - total darkness in the switchyard.

I was installing a specially designed box that communicated status data to the Albany, NY center of the Power Pool of NY.  Until that time there was no central data on the 8 NY owned generating stations.

The big activity at Robert Moses at the time was the retrofit of two of the 13 generators with pneumatically operated gates for the outer generators. There was a small catch-22 built into the plant... they needed power to open the gates in order to generate power, that normally came throm their connection to the Sir Adam Beck plant!

Yes, the blackout started at the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station; it was ultimately traced to an incorrectly set protective relay that had been installed about one year prior to the blackout. It was not a hardware failure, but rather a cockpit error. It took the authorities many months in order to ascertain the true cause.

Jeff, I thought the Robert Moses facility was much further to the north, at Massena, NY. Adam Beck is in the vicinity of Niagara Falls.

Because of the Great Blackout of 1965, the power grid system of the time was significantly reconfigured, so as to reduce the probability of this reocurring. Unfortunately, the current power grid architecture in the U.S. to some extent resembles that of some third world countries;  western Europe is way ahead of us in this regard.

As an 11 year old kid at the time, I remember riding my bicycle home from a friend's house that evening. I vividly recall seeing the street lights grow very dim and the brilliance varying for a number of seconds, until the they finally went out completely. At my folks home, we made good use of flashlights, candles, and a Sony xsistor radio. It was a fun evening, with no television, etc. The power was finally restored to our part of New York around 11:30 PM that night.

73,

Bruce

Logged

Real transmitters are homebrewed with a ratchet wrench, and you have to stand up to tune them!

Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".
WB2EMS
Contributing
Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 633



« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2009, 02:14:24 PM »

Quote
my mother yelled down from the kitchen, "Chris, what did you do now?"

My mom did the same thing. I had a lab/shack in the basement where I was learning electronics and ham radio and when the lights flickered and died my mom opened the cellar door and yelled down to ask what I had done, the lights were off on the whole street. Took a minute to convince her that it really wasn't me. This was east of Rochester in Webster NY. I went outside and looked around and could see that there were no lights in our development, or down towards town, or off towards the city.

We had a fireplace, and my dad got that going when he got home. My mom had a couple of candles and that and my boyscout flashlight were the only lights we had in the house. Mom made some soup and some sandwiches using the gas stove and we all huddled around my little transistor radio by the fire to listen to the news and figure out what was going on.

Hmmm. Thinking back to that memory, I'll bet that's where my interest in emergency radio and preparedness came from. (that and being snowed in a bunch in the late 60's and early 70's). I was a boy scout, my Scoutmaster was my ham Elmer (K2EAW), and except for my radio and scouting flashlight, we'd have been sitting in the dark wondering where the matches were. Ever since I've tended to keep a good light or two around, a good battery powered radio, and an alternative source of heat. Every couple of years it comes in handy. These days with the LED lights and the crank up radios and the woodstove, we'd be in good shape.  Grin
Logged

73 de Kevin, WB2EMS
Ken - K2UPI
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2009, 07:51:52 PM »

The whole event is something to remember.  I was catching a nap before going to work and woke up to
chattering AC relays in the radio shack.  The line voltage was down to 80-85 volts. When the power was completely off  I cranked up a DC powered h.f. receiver and was treated to a "zero voise level and the weakest
of signals coming in Q-5.  I was called into work early and the ride was really exciting.  Cars zipping around the
streets, no working traffic lights, (it's amazing how many people don't know that when a traffic control device is
inoperative, an intersection becomes a 4-way stop) citizens with flash lights trying to direct traffic and rumors of
an enemy attack or U.F.O.'s coming off the B.C. airwaves.   WOW! can't wait for the next one!  Grin Grin

Ken/K2UPI

Logged
Steve - WB3HUZ
Guest
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2009, 08:27:14 PM »

Quote
Unfortunately, the current power grid architecture in the U.S. to some extent resembles that of some third world countries;


LOL. You've obviously never been to a third world country.
Logged
W3LSN
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 209


« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2009, 09:48:14 PM »

Forty-fourth Anniversary of the 1965 Great Northeast Blackout
Where were you when the lights went out? Maybe not born yet 

I know I was busy being 6-years old, and if I remember it I can't separate the details from any of several "big blackouts" that affected the NYC area in the late 60s or 70s. I do recall one blackout circa 1980 that took down all the NYC TV stations, and I was quite impressed to be receiving a channel-8 from CT at our home in NNJ with rabbit ears.

Thinking of "third world" countries for a moment, a much more memorable event for me was when the Humble Oil/Esso Refinery alongside the NJ Turnpike in Linden was blown up in 1970 by some socialist revolutionary group. We lived about 20 miles away, but it still rocked the house that night, and we were all basically sitting there thinking 'WTF?" I went outside and could see flames on the southern horizon that had to be hundreds of feet high. Now that sticks in my memory.

73, Jim
WA2AJM/3
Logged
w3jn
Johnny Novice
Administrator
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 4605



« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2009, 11:41:15 PM »

The very fact that this event is notable and memorable is evidence of the fact that the power generating industry does a damn fine job in providing reliable power.  Not true of the other countries I've lived in - Kenya, 4 hours every day country-wide blackouts.  In Manila we counted ourselves lucky to have 8 hours of power a day.  And in Cuba blackouts were a daily episode, ranging from an hour to 18+ hours.

Once when I was visiting Kampala, Uganda, I got called in in the middle of the night when a bunch of equipment crapped out.  The vibrating reed frequency meter, which read 45-55 hz, wasn't showing anything and I thought it was burned out.  As I sat pondering the problem, I saw the 45 hz reed just begin to vibrate, and after a half hour or so it settled at about 48 hz.  I used to sit on the balcony of my room at the Kampala Sheraton at night and listen to the transformers exploding around the city  Roll Eyes

Having lived extensively on the other side of this, I never take reliable power for granted.  Back home in MD, Allegany Power has given us a total of 2 hours or so of outages in 14 years - up even during the worst t-storms, hurricanes, and ice storms.  That's damn impressive and certainly not indicative of power grid issues.

Many power companies have problems with the "last mile" of delivery to the customer due to trees, etc.  They try and trim trees so they don't fall on the power lines, then the customers piss and moan for cutting them.  They can't win.
Logged

FCC:  "The record is devoid of a demonstrated nexus between Morse code proficiency and on-the-air conduct."
WA2TTP Steve
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 240


« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2009, 12:13:42 AM »


"I was installing a specially designed box that communicated status data to the Albany, NY center of the Power Pool of NY.  Until that time there was no central data on the 8 NY owned generating stations."

Funny thing you mention the New York Power Pool. After working at Con Edison, then Long Island Lighting Co I tranferred to the NYPP in 1984. I was a Shift Supervisor in Power System OPerations retiring in 2006. That IBM communications protocol was in use up into the late 90's.
Logged
N3DRB The Derb
Guest
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2009, 12:18:44 AM »

Allegheny is also a order of magnitude better than BG&E. They were fine until you got a storm, then blip it was all over.  Angry

I have to say I am rather put off by their insistence that the service entrance ground into the house is my responsibility. I dont think it should be.
Logged
w1vtp
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 2636



« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2009, 07:46:30 AM »

Yeah - I remember that!  That was fun for us.  Imagine -- 29 years old.  Just married -- we were on the third story of an apartment building (where all the residual heat goes to ) with nothing to do.     Grin Grin Grin  Couldn't go to work because there was no power -- gee, what a nasty break.

No, we didn't have another kid 9 months later.

YUP!  I remember that one well.  A fond memory.

Al  VTP
Logged
W3SLK
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 2440

Just another member member.


« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2009, 09:17:34 AM »

Steve said:
Quote
LOL. You've obviously never been to a third world country.

I've been to Sri Lanka. That picture that was floating around about the illegal hook-ups is pretty much the story there.
Logged

Mike(y)/W3SLK
Invisible airwaves crackle with life, bright antenna bristle with the energy. Emotional feedback, on timeless wavelength, bearing a gift beyond lights, almost free.... Spirit of Radio/Rush
wa2dtw
Member

Offline Offline

Posts: 155


« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2009, 11:48:42 AM »

Was having dinner at the Green Tree Hungarian Restaurant on Amsterdam Ave and 110th st (next to the current Hungarian Pastry shop).   They immediately brought candles out to the tables.   It was quite quaint.
Logged
WA2ROC
Contributing
Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 287


« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2009, 09:22:02 AM »

Sitting in my basement on Long Island, I was listening to WABC radio (AM 770 , mind you) and Dan Ingram was doing his afternoon R&R show.  

Suddenly the record he was spinning (Remember them, the big round flat things with grooves?) slowed down a little, then a little more.

Dan made the comment "Let's take a look at this old turntable...".  

And followed up by saying "...That must be it...the label says Signal Corps, 1918..."

Then all I heard on my 6 transistor radio was static.

But WBZ in Boston came in loud and clear!

Several friends got out our 10 meter Lafayette mobile rigs and did some simulated disaster recovery operations until early the next morning.

Logged

Dick Pettit WA2ROC 
Vintage Heathkit Equipment
If You Cannot Stand Behind Our Troops, Please Feel Free To Stand In Front Of Them!
W3RSW
Contributing
Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 3306


Rick & "Roosevelt"


« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2009, 10:56:40 AM »

-At Marietta again.
Didn't affect us in Ohio.
Probably watched stuff about it on NBC, Huntley-Brinkley news that night at dorm. No real memory of the event except that it happened.

Quote
I've been to Sri Lanka. That picture that was floating around about the illegal hook-ups is pretty much the story there.

Yeah Mikey, the other extreme is the OSHA inspector making us move the water fountain in the office so he could find and fine us for the two prong AC outlet not changed out.  He did, along with other gems like not having a kick rail on the cat walks around the fin-fan coolers at the compressor station.  Oh yes, we routinely walked the entire town up the ladders and around the coolers...    for the view I suppose.
Logged

RICK  *W3RSW*
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

AMfone - Dedicated to Amplitude Modulation on the Amateur Radio Bands
 AMfone 2001-2015
Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
Page created in 0.082 seconds with 18 queries.