KING SALMON (NAKNEK)
This tropo station was linked to Big Mountain, 70 miles away, by two 30’ dish antennas. It was constructed in 1956 and 1957 and opened 25 May 1957. During project Stretchout, King Salmon became the link for the Aleutian DEW-line system with the main WACS network. Its equipment and power building is 4160 sf and POL storage is comprised of three tanks totaling 3000 barrels. It is located on an active Air Force Base which provides some facilities. Other facilities are provided by the nearby AC&W site.
This tropo station linked Granite Mountain, 105 miles east, by a pair of 30’ antennas and Lisburne, 168 miles to the north, by a pair of 60’ billboard antennas (photo 8; as-builts 7, 8). Construction began in 1956 and the station opened on 25 May 1957. The equipment and power building is 5280 sf. POL storage is provided by three tanks totaling 7950 barrels. The buildings are abandoned but reportedly in good condition. The state of Alaska may convert the facility into a minimum security prison. The 30’ and 60’ antennas have been demolished. Kotzebue WACS is colocated with an old AC&W site.
This facility was linked by 60’ tropo antennas to Kotzebue,
168 miles south, and to Point Lay DEW-line station by a second pair of billboard
antennas. It was constructed in 1956-57 and opened on 29 August 1957. Lisburne
was the only "seasonal" WACS, not in use during the winter. The
equipment and power building was 2960 sf. This was replaced by a
"showplace" composite building in 1968-70, which boasted a two-story
foyer, "Simulating an airy summer atmosphere." It had a colorful
interior and lavish lighting. The building cost 6.5 million dollars to build in
1968-70. A tramway was added in 1963 for 1.35 million dollars.
POL storage was accomplished by two 400 barrel tanks. Lisburne was the
northernmost WACS facility.
(See note 1)
This was one of the first facilities to open. It was constructed in 1956 and opened on 29 November 1956. The first telephone call to use the WACS went through Middleton Island via Neklasson Lake. It has been turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration and most of the island is owned by a private group of lawyers, MIDICO. A pair of 60’ billboard antennas linked Boswell Bay, 69 miles to the north, and a second set linked Neklasson Lake, 130 miles north. The equipment and power building was 4300 sf and constructed in six sections. POL storage was provided by three small tanks. Site condition is apparently good. The tropo equipment has been removed although the antennas are still standing. Middleton Island was an AC&W reserve site along with Ohlson Mountain, Cape Chiniak, Sitkinak, Fire Island, and Murphy Dome. Several FAA personnel are stationed at the facility. Middleton Island was a remote station and considered a difficult post. A Mr. Flanley of Federal Electric was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying: "One of our best men couldn’t take Middleton Island; it’s windswept, small, and bare as a baby’s bottom. He got claustrophobia there; we moved him to another station and he’s all right" (WECO 1957). (See note 2)
NAPTOWNE (KENAI R1-N)
Naptowne is a radio relay station with a 250’ TD-2 microwave tower with paths 48 miles north to Rabbit Creek and 17 miles south to Soldotna. It was constructed in 1955-56 and opened 18 January 1957. It was acquired by Alascom in 1983 and is still functioning. It consists of a 1200 sf equipment and power building, a 16 sf sanitary latrine, two POL tanks totaling a 200 barrel capacity and a 595’ long chain link fence.
NEKLASSON LAKE (NEK LAKE, WASILLA)
Nek Lake functioned as a tropo link to Boswell Bay, 130 miles to the south, and also had a TD-2 microwave link to Elmendorf AFB. Nek Lake and Boswell Bay were the first two WACS stations to become operational (29 November 1956). During Project Stretchout, this facility became a switching station and was incorporated into BMEWS, A Route. The equipment and power building (5710 sf) was built in seven sections and included the communications center, power plant room, switchboard room, pump station, radio facility room, microwave equipment room and office control equipment room. There was also a paint shed and a 250 gallon POL storage tank. None of the original equipment, with the exception of a backup generator, remains. The 60’ tropo antennas, while not in use, are still standing. Nek Lake is easily accessible from Anchorage, near Palmer.
Cape Newenham’s 60’ antennas faced Bethel, 147 miles away (photo 4, as-built 1). This facility was constructed in 1957 and opened on 18 January 1958. Its main function today is as a Minimally Attended Radar (MAR) site with its characteristic golfball configuration. The WACS site consisted of a 5280 sf equipment and power building, a 4750 sf 12-person dormitory and two 475 gallon POL storage tanks. Newenham also had one of the few tramways in the WACS system. It collapsed early during its operation but no one was hurt. The composite building (equipment and power building) was revamped in 1974 at a cost of over six million dollars. The site has been demolished.
NORTH RIVER (UNALAKLEET)
This was a combination tropo/microwave site with 60’ antennas connecting Granite Mountain, 108 miles to the east and Kalakaket Creek, 118 miles southeast. A microwave like to the nearby Unalakleet AC&W site was also in place. It was constructed In 1957 and opened on 13 September of that year. Its equipment and power building was 6720 sf and its 12-person dormitory was 4750 sf. POL storage was a combined capacity of 11,200 barrels. Many AC&W facilities were used and the facility was accessible by road from Unalakleet. However, the military-constructed bridge across the Unalakleet River was prone to wash out because of spring flooding, so at times, the WACS personnel were isolated. The site is now abandoned and heavily vandalized.
The shot to Pt. Lay used 30' circular antennas. I was not aware there was such a thing as a 'seasonal' WACS station. The composite building replaced the interconnected wooden buildings at lower camp, not the WACS building.
Middleton Island shot to Boswell Bay only and not to Nek Lake. Boswell shot to Nek Lake.
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