If only this abandoned AT&T microwave tower could talk …

121015blog microwave tower kansas

Abandoned AT&T microwave tower in Fairview, Kan.

Credit: Google Earth

Oh, the stories it might tell. But since even the tower’s days of facilitating talk are behind it, a writer for The Atlantic has taken up the task of telling its story … or at least piecing one together as best as possible. From that account, which has better pictures:

We were somewhere in Kansas when we found the second microwave tower. We’d found the ruins of one somewhere else in Kansas earlier during that day. This other one still had its pyramidal horn-reflector antennae intact. One abandoned microwave tower is a coincidence; two is probably an omen. Especially when that second one has AT&T Long Lines signage out front.

Long Lines, AT&T’s division for long-distance communication networks, built out a massive microwave radio network starting in 1951. At the time, it was the first large-scale microwave-transmission network for telephony and broadcast, and it would be expanded a ton over the next few decades. But by the time the Internet rose to prominence, the technology was pretty outdated and couldn't carry the kind of bandwidth that fiber-optic cable could carry. AT&T sold off most of the towers in the late 1990s. According to FCC records it looks like this tower still belongs to AT&T, but it didn’t look like anyone had been around the tower site in a while—and no one answered the door at the weird building with the AT&T mailbox out front. A Google Earth image shows a white van parked by the building, so presumably someone does work there sometimes.

It’s an interesting read.

And if you’re really into this kind of walk down memory lane, the author links to a website, Long-lines.net, “probably one of the best resources for finding out about old AT&T infrastructure.”  

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