Tom Apalenek, left, call sign WA2IVD, looks to make another contact with a fellow amateur radio operator as Joe Krout, KR0UT, logs the information from a previous contact. Visible in the background is a third operator, Marty Peters, KE0PEZ. All three men are members of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club. Submitted photo

Rick Nichols 
Special to The Gardner News
No one heard members of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club singing “Home on the Range” Saturday, but amateur radio operators from Alaska to Florida and from California to New York did hear “hams” belonging to the Olathe-based club as they readily identified themselves as Kansans during a special pre-Kansas Day event at Sawyer Memorial Antenna Park in Edgerton.
Operating inside a vintage camper and using the club call sign of KS0KS, members of the SFTARC took to the airways in an effort to hook up with as many other ham radio operators as possible over a five-hour period to let them know that the Sunflower State was getting ready to celebrate yet another birthday. Club members worked in pairs part of the time, the one “ham” sending out a general invitation to respond to his call while the other waited patiently to log the date and time, the mode, band and frequency, the respondent’s first name, call sign and location, and other information whenever a “contact,” as amateur radio operators refer to it, was made.
Two stations had been set up for the event, one a single sideband station for voice communications and the other a continuous wave, or Morse code, station. Club members operated on three bands altogether, 20 meters (14.0 to 14.35 MHz), 30 meters (10.1 to 10.15 MHz) and 40 meters (7.0 to 7.35 MHz).
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the “hams” were able to connect with amateur radio operators in Canada and a number of the other states, including Alaska, Michigan, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, South Dakota, California, Washington, Tennessee, Ohio and New York, in getting out the word that Kansas’ birthday was fast approaching.
“We had a great day on the air,” club member and former Gardner businessman Del Sawyer, K0DDS, reported Sunday afternoon. “We had a total of 140 contacts, 20 with Morse code and the rest on single sideband.”
Admitted to the Union on Jan. 29, 1861 as the 34th state and as a free state, Kansas turns 159 years old today. In 1861, the Morse code had been in use for more than 15 years as a means of communication for commercial or governmental purposes, but it would be another 50 years or so before what came to be known as radio enabled Kansans from Cherokee County to Cheyenne County (i.e., east to west) and from Marshall County to Meade County (i.e., north to south) to keep in touch with each other instantaneously.
Early “hams” in the land of the Jayhawks, Wildcats and Wheatshockers included Marshall Ensor, W9BSP, and his younger sister Loretta, W9UA, who grew up on the family dairy farm located along 183rd Street in southern Johnson County.
For more information about the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club, visit
For more information about the rich history of Kansas, which produced America’s 34th President in Dwight D. Eisenhower, visit