Original White Alice Network
Aniak was a tropo facility which functioned as the link between Bethel and Sparrevohn. It was constructed between 1955 and 1958 and officially activated on 14 January 1958. It was closed in 1979 and is currently owned by the State which may use part or all of the facilities for educational purposes. Original Improvements include a large (6080 sf) equipment and power building and a 12-person dormitory (4750 sf). Three POL tanks had a combined capacity of 7000 barrels of fuel. Aniak has two sets of billboard antennas: one pair of 60’ antennas transmits to Bethel, 96 miles away, while the other 60’ pair faces Sparrevohn, 135 miles distant. All antennas are deiced. They are painted in a checkerboard pattern because the facility is in the flight path for the Aniak airport (photo 3).
ANVIL MOUNTAIN (NOME)
Anvil Mountain was a tropo facility linking Granite Mountain and Northeast Cape on Saint Lawrence Island. It was constructed in 1957 and opened on 9 January 1958. It was deactivated in 1978. The main improvement was a 6720 sf equipment/power building. No dormitory was needed because lodging was obtained in Nome. There was one 1600 barrel POL tank on site. In the mid-70’s, a pair of transportable 30’ dish antennas was added to bypass the link to Northeast Cape. Originally, two 60’ antennas faced Northeast Cape 126 away and a second set faced Granite Mountain, 136 miles away.
BEAR CREEK (TANANA)
Bear Creek was a tropo station linking Indian Mountain, Kalakaket Creek and Pedro Dome. It was constructed during 1956 and 1957 and officially activated on 6 January 1979. It originally had a 7200 sf equipment and power building and a 16-person dormitory (5200 sf). One pair of 60’ antennas faced Kalakaket Creek, 155 miles away and a second pair linked Pedro Dome, a distance of 130 miles (photos 6 and 7). A pair of 30’ dishes linked Indian Mountain, 75 miles away. There was also a microwave link to the Tanana FAA.
Bethel was a three-way tropo link between Aniak, Cape Newenham and Cape Romanzof. It was constructed during 1957 and activated on 18 January 1958. It was deactivated in 1979. Some improvements may be taken over by KYUK, the regional educational TV channel. The original equipment and power building was 6720 sf. No dormitory was needed. The one POL tank had a 6500 barrel capacity. This impressive site boasted three pairs of 60’ antennas. They faced Aniak (96 miles), Cape Romanzof (152 miles) and Cape Newenham (147 miles). All were deiced. Personnel stationed at Bethel WACS used many facilities at the nearby AC&W site. (See note 1)
BIG MOUNTAIN (ILIAMNA)
This tropo station linked Diamond Ridge, King Salmon and Sparrevohn. ATSS switching capability was added in 1969 (photos 5 and 13). It was constructed between 1956 and 1957 and opened 7 September 1957. It was closed on 27 April 1979. The equipment and power building measured 40 by 180 feet (7200 sf) and a 16-person dormitory (5200 sf) was also located there. One pair of 60’antennas faced Diamond Ridge, 128 miles away. A second faced Sparrevohn, 120 miles distant. A pair of 30’ dishes linked King Salmon, 70 miles south. Big Mountain, Neklasson Lake, Pedro Dome and Kalakaket Creek were linked by ATSS switch. These facilities form a large rectangle and are linked so that if one facility failed, could still communicate the other three stations. For example, if Neklasson Lake needed to beam information to Pedro Dome, but Big Mountain was ‘down,’ the information could be beamed to Kalakaket Creek and then to Pedro Dome, bypassing Big Mountain.
BOSWELL BAY (HINCHENBROOK)
Boswell Bay was one of the first stations activated, constructed In 1955 and 1956, and activated on 29 November 1956. It was a tropo station linking Middleton Island and Neklasson Lake. A pair of 30’ antennas faced Middleton Island, 69 miles away and a pair of 60’ billboards faced Neklasson Lake, 133 miles distant. Its equipment building was 4600 sf and its separate power building was 2500 sf (see photos 9-11). There was also a 16-person, 5200 sf dormitory. There were several POL tanks and smaller out-buildings. The facility could be reached only by air. It was demolished in 1987 after extensive historic documentation. Under the guidance of the National Park Service, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Boswell Bay WACS was determined Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Archival quality photographs have been deposited at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and several thousand as-built drawings are on file at the University of Alaska, Anchorage archives.
Cape Chiniak was intended as a combination tropo/microwave station, but was never opened as a WACS facility. It was planned as an AC&W site and had a microwave link to Pillar Mountain. Because the construction of the Aleutian DEW line in 1959 mitigated the need for an AC&W site, there was no need for a WACS facility either. The site was virtually completed, however. It did become operational, however, as a Pacific Range Tracking Site in 1958-59.
CLAM GULCH (KENAI R1-S)
This is a TD-2 microwave radio relay station with paths 26 miles north to Soldotna and 26 miles south to Diamond Ridge. It was constructed during 1955 and 1956 and opened on 30 March 1957. Improvements include an equipment/power building (1250 sf), the 275’ TD-2 tower and a chain link fence. It is owned by Alascom and still in use.
The Bethel AC&W was closed in the early 60's and it became a local economy site requiring WACS personnel to live in the town of Bethel. Living conditions in 60's Bethel were, at best, primitive- substandard housing, honey buckets and no running water. I spent three months in Bethel in the summer of '67 and lived in a canvas Quonset hut, which was rather noisy when the wind blew or it rained. To this day, I hate the smell of Pine-Sol. Bethel was (and probably still is) considered the armpit of western Alaska.
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