These fellows are working toward sustainable power, some way to stay off the grid. From farm windmill pumping water, to this forerunner of today's Wind Turbines

As you can see, this work is for the Sheriff's Department of Contra Costa County, California. That's inland from San Franciso. In fact, Contra Costa means "across from the coast".

My brother, Captain Alan Burton says about the men standing in front of the trailer, "One is me; three aren't". He's the fellow on the right.

The trailer was the sheriff's mobile command post hand built by our father, Captain George K. Burton at the time of the Watts riot in Los Angeles, California about 1965. Always the forerunner, he was generally modest.

The windmill was the first ever to power a police radio system and was handmade using VW and Cadillac parts, with homemade blades. Alan says,"I think the photo is about 1983. Incidentally, the building is now the Captain George Burton Memorial Building. He had it built in 1950. He retired in 1966.

Always the innovator, my father, hired as a deputy in 1935, was charged with developing a new radio system to cover Contra Costa County with 734 miles of hills and valleys. Of no help was the brand new Federal Communications Commission which initially gave George enough radio power to cover the town of Martinez, about one tenth of the total county.


Burton's plan called for planning an unheard of device - something that would eventually be called the RADIO REPEATER - atop 3,849 foot Mt. Diablo near the center of the county. The repeater could receive weak signals from patrol cars throughout Northern California and bounce them back so they could be heard plainly by the Sheriff's dispatcher in Martinez.

However, the FCC was adamant in denying a permit - there was no provision in the law for such a peculiar device. Eventually, the FCC issued an "experimental" license allowing Burton to install the equipment.Burton recalled: "And boy did it work like a charm". The equipment took up two rooms of what everyone called "The Castle" on top of Mt. Diablo.

That same technology, although MUCH smaller, is used today in every communications device on and off this planet. The heart of a satellite is called a compandor - just another name for the old radio repeater.