June 25, 2013

Kempis Mountain - Long Lines / TD-2 Site

Last summer, when I passed through Black River-Matheson I stopped at Kempis Mountain to see the remediated site that was the Mid Canada Line site 070 - the last Tropscatter receiver which fed Doppler radar signals to "The Hole" in North Bay, from Kempis to North Bay by land line.  The signal was skipped off the troposphere from a repeater in Relay, Ontario, repeating the signal from Fort Albany, Ontario.  Anyhow, that was what I was going to look at - and there wasn't much left but a plaque, as the site had been totally "remediated"

Plaque @ MCL Site 070 - Kempis
What I was surprised to find was a rather beefy old steel massive self supporting microwave tower at the peak of the mountain, along with some steel prefab buildings that also looked vintage.

Microwave Tower @ Kempis Mountain
Thanks to the information provided to an expert in the field and in the area (Thank you MM!) I now know this was a 1950s vintage BELL microwave tower, part of the TD-2 / Long Lines system - the first "long haul" coast to coast microwave network which meshed across the USA and Canada proving phone and television signals across the countries.  They really don't make towers like this anymore - there's a lot of steel, not just because the prices were lower, but because the microwave dishes (or Horns) were extremely heavy and the tower needed to be beefy.

Here is a technical journal from 1951 about the TD-2 system

...and the later TD-3 system, with diagrams of the buildings

1960 Map of AT&T Long Lines Routes
Courtesy of Terry Michaels & Long-Lines.net

If you zoom in on the Ontario section of the map, you'll see Kempis listed, and likely not coincidentally, microwave repeaters follow the Pinetree Line sites along HWY11 pretty well.  Yes, I think I'll be taking pictures of even more old microwave towers in the future. 

Was this one, that I found near Westport, Ontario part of the Bell Long Lines system too?  I'm not sure.  The building was concrete block, not steel.

Decommissioned microwave tower near Westport
I'm always excited to find another element of technology from the Pinetree Line time period, it helps put together the pieces and helps me understand what was, or wasn't, possible at the time.

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