The Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association (LCARA) had its beginning on May 30, 1948 when amateur radio operators (hams) responded to the the Vanport Flood. Amateur radio operators from Washington state reacted with communication assistance to assist sheriffs and other search and rescue organizations fulfill their mission. And thus was born the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association (LCARA) which has been in service to the citizens of Washington state ever since.
This history is divided into three parts.
1. The first is a description of our 70th Anniversary on May 30, 2018 which summarizes our accomplishments up to that point.
2. The second “Memories with Stu” is where Stuart Farmer K7WF, a senior LCARA member, recalls the early days of our club.
3. Finally, I will summarize our accomplishments each year starting in 2018.
On May 30, 2018 the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association celebrated its 70th anniversary with a potluck and a congratulatory letter from Washington state Governor Inslee. The Governor’s letter and a brief history were enshrined in plaques for a wall.
The Governor’s letter reads as follows.
State of Washington
Office of the Governor
Greetings from the Governor
May 30, 2018
I am pleased to extend warm greetings to all of those attending the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association’s (LCARA) 70th Anniversary celebration. Congratulations on this impressive milestone!
Born out of the Vanport Flood of May 30, 1948, LCARA has a long history of providing critical communications assistance and other emergency services, such as emergency transport and drone operations, to a broad range of organizations, including local law enforcement and fire departments, the Civil Air Patrol, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, hospitals, and the Red Cross. LCARA plays a key role in the region’s preparedness planning and overall readiness to respond to natural disasters and other disruptive events. Additionally, LCARA contributes to advances in space science and communications, as well as international goodwill through regular contacts with other countries.
I applaud LCARA members for their commitment to adding to the strength and resilience of the region and our state as a whole. Few service organizations achieve this longevity while remaining agile and embracing advanced technology as well as new opportunities to give back. I am inspired by your selflessness, and I hope your example will motivate others to give back to their community in a meaningful way.
Thank you for coming, and please accept my best wishes for a memorable celebration and continued success in the years ahead.
Very truly yours,
The brief history of LCARA on the plaque read as follows.
The Vanport Flood of May 30, 1948 was disastrous for Washington state, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia in Canada. Fifty people died and 46,000 people lost their homes. It resulted in over 102 million dollars damage in the United States alone. Amateur radio operators from Washington state reacted with communication assistance to assist sheriffs and other search and rescue organizations fulfill their mission. And thus was born the Lower Columbia Amateur Radio Association (LCARA) which has been in service to the citizens of Washington state ever since. On May 30, 2018 the LCARA celebrates its 70th anniversary with a celebration.
Since that time, the LCARA has increased their technical expertise by using a variety of voice, text, image, and data communications modes to include Morse code, very-low-power, and fast/slow scan television signals. LCARA has access to frequency allocations throughout the radio frequency spectrum to enable communication across a city, region, country, continent, the world, or even into space.
Stuart Farmer K7WF, a senior LCARA member, recalls the early days of our club. Stu is very reluctant to talk about himself, but he has served our club in many ways over the years, is an Extra Class ham, and has 315 QSL contacts throughout the world.
“In 1948 the club was formed as a result of serious flooding in the area, when hams were responsible for manning the dikes and reporting any possible areas that needed more sandbags.
As a result of their efficiency a local lumber company donated a “Line Shack” which was erected on property above the present clubhouse at the East end of Laulainen Road. There is now a large water tank at the same location. This was the first clubhouse. (There is an unconfirmed rumor that the minimum age for joining LCARA at that time was 21 years old because of unnamed activities.)
The club was later moved to the Juvenile Detention Center on Croy Street in North Kelso. This was approximately in 1967. I joined the club in 1969 after getting my Novice license WN7OMX. I later held the position of Secretary/Treasurer, and later as President.
The present clubhouse, at 966 Lone Oak Road, was leased from Radio Station KBAM, and was erected by members in 1975, donating their time as well as each giving 100 dollars towards material. A plaque is on display at the club, showing each member who made a donation. KBAM was later brought out by Intercom communication, and we are leasing the property from them at this time on a month to month basis.
The original call of the club was W7NCW, but on the death of Ray Sechler we applied, and successfully obtained his call of W7DG. Ray had been the CW (Morse code) instructor to so many of us over the years that we decided to honor him in this way.
Craig Wilson, WA7ILC, passed away in about 2008. While in the military in Alaska, he used to copy five letter groups sent in Morse code from Russia. He worked as a sergeant on the night shift in the Police Department. He was a very big guy. Once another ham said his call sign ending in ILC stood for “Illiterate Little Cop.” Craig good naturedly chased him around the room a few times.
There were six founding members. Three of them were:
Winfield O. Jones was a Prudential Insurance Agent who also liked to also ride a big Harley Davidson motorcycle. He and his wife Eloise passionately loved each other and both loved to argue. One of the points they loved to argue about was whenever Winfield got a speeding ticket for 100 dollars, he was supposed to give his wife another 100 dollars. Eloise passed first. When Winfield passed other hams who knew them both carried his casket. As soon as he was laid to rest, there was a loud clap of thunder and bright lightening from above. One of the hams said, “See, they are fighting already!”
In 2018 we continued to expand drone operations, give amateur radio VEC tests for new hams and those wishing to advance, performed Field Day, gave support to both the Blooms to Brews marathon in April the Tour de Blast bike race in June, grew our funds with volunteer activities, further developed microwave communication, and through the Auxiliary Communication Service (A.C.S.) coordinated emergency services with other agencies.
On May 19 we held a Mock Search. As always, sneaky Connie Greeley KB7AYY led us on a long merry difficult search for the Emergency Locater Transmitter (ELT).
On June 16-17 we did a fundraising event of a Potato Bar in Woodland on their Planters Day led by Carl Gray K7ECW.
Field Day is an opportunity for hams to get out in a field and starting from scratch with nothing build and operate multiple radio stations and communicate with people all over the world. Several camped out all night. In 2018 we successfully put up on our 40 foot tower a hexagonal directed beam field antenna with 6, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 20 meters as well as a 40 and 80 meter straight wire lead in. We also were able to maintain continuous power with a solar power generator and a battery and follow amateur radio satellites.
This year the Tour de Blast (June 23) and Field Day (June 22-24) happened on the same day. As a measure of our depth and flexibility, the LCARA was able to cover both events. Randy Greeley NU7D led the Tour de Blast and Steve Andrews K7KO led field day.
We officially received our Grant from RIZAD for: Two 100% Water Proof Drones, A 250 Gallon Propane Tank Plus Fuel for LCARA and a Projector. In addition through a donation and purchase we now have two wide screen televisions for better presentations in the LCARA clubhouse.
We held a Christmas dinner potluck on December 8.