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Re: [coldwarcomms] Visit to former AT&T Buckingham, VA (Spears Mountain) Project Office

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  • Pj
    If the new owner is willing, a group tour and/or get together would be really neat (with enough notice of course). I ll bring the LPG for the BBQ grill... ...
    Message 1 of 15 , May 21, 2007
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      If the new owner is willing, a group tour and/or get
      together would be really neat (with enough notice of
      course). I'll bring the LPG for the BBQ grill...



      --- David Williams <ke7abh@...> wrote:

      > Did the new owner say what he was going to do with
      > it in the future? This is a huge complex, the
      > largest I have toured was a 8,000 sq foot that had a
      > 180' microwave
      > tower next to it. It also had the double blast doors
      > to get in but was not as large as this one has.
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been
      > removed]
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >




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    • ks546372
      How did the new owner acquire the facility? Any idea what price range it was? Very quiet transaction it appears.
      Message 2 of 15 , May 21, 2007
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        How did the "new owner" acquire the facility? Any idea what price
        range it was?

        Very quiet transaction it appears.
      • Steve
        Though I ve been a long-time lurker here, I ve never had much to contribute to the dialog. Still, all of the discussions here fascinate me, and this has
        Message 3 of 15 , May 21, 2007
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          Though I've been a long-time "lurker" here, I've never had much to
          contribute to the dialog. Still, all of the discussions here fascinate
          me, and this has reminded me what a good idea a real-life "meet" would
          be. I know, we're scattered all over the country (I'm not unreasonably
          far from Buckingham though). Still, there's so much knowledge,
          experience, and passion in this group... so much "stuff" that can be
          shared in person to which the Internet will never do any justice...


          --- In coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, Pj <packy41@...> wrote:
          >
          > If the new owner is willing, a group tour and/or get
          > together would be really neat (with enough notice of
          > course). I'll bring the LPG for the BBQ grill...
          >
          >
        • mbella42
          Same here, lurking is my specialty. Albert, what a great opportunity, only wish more pictures were a possibility. It s too bad more of these sites aren t open
          Message 4 of 15 , May 22, 2007
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            Same here, lurking is my specialty.

            Albert, what a great opportunity, only wish more pictures were a
            possibility. It's too bad more of these sites aren't open for guided
            tours. I guess with the brave new world we're living in this type of
            site will never be "retired".

            --- In coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, "Steve" <scrow@...> wrote:
            >
            > Though I've been a long-time "lurker" here, I've never had much to
            > contribute to the dialog. Still, all of the discussions here fascinate
            > me, and this has reminded me what a good idea a real-life "meet" would
            > be. I know, we're scattered all over the country (I'm not unreasonably
            > far from Buckingham though). Still, there's so much knowledge,
            > experience, and passion in this group... so much "stuff" that can be
            > shared in person to which the Internet will never do any justice...
            >
            >
            > --- In coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, Pj <packy41@> wrote:
            > >
            > > If the new owner is willing, a group tour and/or get
            > > together would be really neat (with enough notice of
            > > course). I'll bring the LPG for the BBQ grill...
            > >
            > >
            >
          • GREG PRICE
            I always suspected that the mast on the top of the Tropo reflectors would support a microwave antenna. I find it interesting that it turned out to support a
            Message 5 of 15 , May 27, 2007
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              I always suspected that the mast on the top of the
              Tropo reflectors would support a microwave antenna. I
              find it interesting that it turned out to support a
              camera and radiation sensors. A microwave antenna
              would have allowed Spears Mountain to talk to Dwylyn
              or Tobacco Row. The facility would have allowed
              communications by Tropo or by what is left of the AT&T
              system. It would be interesting to see how many and in
              what direction any AT&T cables go.
              I can account for every opening on the surface except
              one. If anyone does get another tour what is the
              opening in the ground about 20 to 25 feet to the left
              of the security station door. The other ground
              openings are air intake for the generators or for the
              main bunkers.
              --- Albert LaFrance <albert.lafrance@...>
              wrote:

              > This past Friday, I visited the former AT&T
              > Buckingham "Project Office" troposcatter relay
              > station
              > on Spears
              > Mountain in Buckingham County, VA, at the invitation
              > of the new owner of the property. I wasn't
              > able to take
              > pictures inside due to a lack of light (utility
              > power has been temporarily disconnected) - the only
              > light source for my tour was the owner's gas
              > lantern!
              >
              > The degree of hardening and physical security at the
              > site is amazing, especially considering its
              > remote location (70 miles west of Richmond, 23 miles
              > northeast of Lynchburg, and 36 miles
              > south-southwest of Charlottesville). This is really
              > a first-class facility; there's no doubt that
              > the station's mission - whatever it was - had the
              > highest importance.
              >
              > In this report, I'll refer to photos taken
              > previously by other visitors and me, posted on my
              > Buckingham web page:
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/index.html
              >
              > The facility has two levels, totaling approximately
              > 40,000 square feet. Construction took place
              > between about 1962 and 1964. The concrete walls
              > appear to be about two feet thick.
              >
              > It was shut down around 1992, at which time all of
              > the telecom equipment was removed, with
              > the exception of a DC power plant consisting of a
              > small battery of cylindrical glass cells on a rack
              > and some modern-looking Lucent charging and
              > monitoring equipment, located on a platform in the
              > area
              > behind the railing in the right foreground of this
              > photo:
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/MVC-005Fa.jpg
              > .
              >
              > All of the remaining equipment in the building is
              > support systems: electrical, HVAC, water supply,
              > waste disposal, fuel handling, security and fire
              > protection.
              >
              > AT&T removed all of the telecom-related
              > documentation from the facility, in contrast to
              > other former
              > AT&T sites
              > I've visited where paperwork and manuals of all
              > kinds were left behind. AT&T did give the buyer a
              > set of construction drawings, but the portion of the
              > title block on each drawing where the facility
              > name
              > and the architect/engineering firm's name would be
              > printed is blank.
              >
              > The main entrance to the facility is through two
              > sets of motor-operated double-leaf blast doors in
              > tandem, forming a blast lock. The doors are big,
              > since they had to accommodate both people and
              > equipment. I'd estimate the openings to be about
              > nine feet square. Also, the blast lock chamber is
              > quite large - I'd guess at least 25 feet long by 15
              > feet wide. In contrast, the blast lock at the
              > other hardened sites I've seen was maybe 6-8 feet in
              > length, and only a little wider than the doors
              > themselves (e.g. Pottstown, PA:
              >
              http://long-lines.net/places-routes/PottstownPA/030801B-13A.html
              > ).
              > And not all of the AT&T hardened sites even had
              > blast locks; I believe they're mostly in the older
              > sites.
              >
              > Referring to this exterior photo of the bunker
              > entrance area:
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/spears11.jpg
              > The concrete-block building in front of the
              > retaining wall was the guard office, which is not
              > hardened. The large door in
              > the retaining wall itself, to the right of the guard
              > office, leads to a small, hardened garage area
              > for a
              > bullldozer. The machine was intended to clear
              > access to the facility in case an attack scattered
              > debris. One of the
              > construction drawings shows a bulldozer parked in
              > that space.
              >
              > The outer blast door is in the part of the retaining
              > wall that's behind the guard office, opposite
              > the
              > garage-type door on the front of the guard office:
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/security-officeA.html
              >
              > This photo shows the exterior of the outer blast
              > door, as seen from inside the guard office:
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/door-sidewaysA.html
              > .
              >
              > The outer blast door could be opened from the guard
              > office by a pushbutton (not visible in photo)
              > located on the wall to the left of the door. The
              > ornamental stonework around the blast door looks a
              > bit out of place in the otherwise utilitarian
              > structure.
              >
              > Inside the bunker, the control boxes for the doors
              > have round metal logo plates with the name
              > "Mosler Nuclear Division" surrounding a version of
              > the familiar "atomic-age" symbol of electrons
              > orbiting an atom's nucleus. This is the same
              > organization which built the doors for the
              > Greenbrier
              > bunker.
              >
              > In the wall just past the inner blast door, there's
              > a door leading to an undressing room, with a
              > chute for disposing of contaminated clothing, and a
              > walk-through decontamination shower. There's a
              > red button or light adjacent to the shower entrance,
              > with a sign saying something about pushing the
              > button or waiting for the light before entering.
              >
              > Beyond that is a long corridor. There are movement
              > joints at two or three places along the
              > corridor. At these joints, the concrete is
              > interrupted by a 2-3 inch wide strip of resilient
              > material like foam rubber, and all of the pipes and
              > electrical conduits are carried across the joint
              > by flexible connections.
              >
              > The troposcatter reflector structures are 32 feet
              > tall. I was surprised to see that the surfaces of
              > the plates which form the reflectors (
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/tropo-reflectorA.html
              > )do *not* seem metallic,
              > although they look like dark gray metal, even close
              > up. From tapping on them, I got them
              > impression of fiberglass. I assume there's a
              > conducting mesh embedded in the plates. The gaps
              > between the plates are sealed with caulking.
              >
              > The concrete blocks housing the feed horns are
              > bigger than I'd expected; I'd guess they're about
              > 7-8
              > feet on each side. The feed aperture is about 12
              > inches square, and looks like milky white opaque
              > plastic. There is access to the inside of the
              > blocks from the station, via ladders. The only
              > remaining waveguides are the vertical runs from the
              > feedhorns to the equipment room, at which point
              > the guides are capped. The horizontal runs to the
              > radio equipment locations have been removed.
              >
              > Each reflector structure has an internal stairway
              > from the bunker to a ground-level blast door on
              > the side of the structure (
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/tropo-doorA.html
              > and
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/tropo-door-sidwaysA.html
              > ). And in the stairwell, you
              > can see one of the oddest features of the
              > facility. Each reflector structure is equipped with
              > a motor-driven mast which can be raised, like a
              > periscope,
              > out the top of the structure. The masts carried
              > CCTV cameras and radiation sensors. The mast is
              > actually a thick polished steel shaft, about 8-10
              > inches in diameter, that's raised and lowered by a
              > chain-drive mechanism. There's a control box (also
              > by Mosler) for the mast just inside the
              > reflector's blast door, and another control point at
              > the security station in the main structure.
              >
              > All of the station's mechanical and electrical
              > equipment is shock-mounted, similar to the
              > construction in the hardened L-carrier stations.
              > Larger free-standing equipment like electrical
              > switchboards and
              > compressors is on massive concrete blocks, supported
              > by coil springs. Wall-mounted panels are
              > suspended from springs attached to metal brackets.
              >
              > The main building HVAC control panel looks even
              > bigger and more impressive than it does in the
              > photos:
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/MVC-001Fa.jpg
              >
              http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/MVC-022F1.jpg
              >
              > At the left-hand end of the panel is a Bell System
              > logo, maybe 8-10 inches in diameter, with the
              > words "Long Lines Department" surrounding the bell.
              >
              > In the right-hand endcap of the panel are three
              > interior air-quality monitors with analog meters,
              > measuring
              > carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and kerosene vapor.
              >
              === message truncated ===



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            • ozob99
              ... As i recall this was a repeater only and nothing came down to baseband so no need for connectivity elsewhere other than local phones,operational
              Message 6 of 15 , May 27, 2007
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                --- In coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, GREG PRICE <pingsalt@...> wrote:
                >
                > I always suspected that the mast on the top of the
                > Tropo reflectors would support a microwave antenna. I
                > find it interesting that it turned out to support a
                > camera and radiation sensors. A microwave antenna
                > would have allowed Spears Mountain to talk to Dwylyn
                > or Tobacco Row. The facility would have allowed
                > communications by Tropo or by what is left of the AT&T
                > system. It would be interesting to see how many and in
                > what direction any AT&T cables go.
                > I can account for every opening on the surface except
                > one. If anyone does get another tour what is the
                > opening in the ground about 20 to 25 feet to the left
                > of the security station door. The other ground
                > openings are air intake for the generators or for the
                > main bunkers.




                As i recall this was a repeater only and nothing came down to baseband
                so no need for connectivity elsewhere other than local
                phones,operational comms,alarms/telemetry. The extra space may have
                been a designated or back up site for personnel relocation like the
                other project offices provided.Some L4 main stations also provided
                such space for VIP's of the Bell Operating Company as an EOC(emergency
                operating center), and allegedly made available to the gov't if needed.
              • Mark Foster
                Were the generators Solar Turbines? If so there should be an intake and an exhaust. From the aerials the intake(s) look pretty small. Buckingham since it did
                Message 7 of 15 , May 27, 2007
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                  Were the generators Solar Turbines?

                  If so there should be an intake and an exhaust.

                  From the aerials the intake(s) look pretty small.
                  Buckingham since it did not have any switching
                  or broadband to VF equipment must not have had
                  much of an electrical load.


                  At 06:13 AM 5/27/2007, you wrote:
                  >always suspected that the mast on the top of the
                  >Tropo reflectors would support a microwave antenna. I
                  >find it interesting that it turned out to support a
                  >camera and radiation sensors. A microwave antenna
                  >would have allowed Spears Mountain to talk to Dwylyn
                  >or Tobacco Row. The facility would have allowed
                  >communications by Tropo or by what is left of the AT&T
                  >system. It would be interesting to see how many and in
                  >what direction any AT&T cables go.
                  >I can account for every opening on the surface except
                  >one. If anyone does get another tour what is the
                  >opening in the ground about 20 to 25 feet to the left
                  >of the security station door. The other ground
                  >openings are air intake for the generators or for the
                  >main bunkers.
                • GREG PRICE
                  Attached files show the REL 2600 Tropo Gear that was installed at Spears Mountain. In this picture it is installed at a US base in Vietnam. It would all fit
                  Message 8 of 15 , May 28, 2007
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                    Attached files show the REL 2600 Tropo Gear that was
                    installed at Spears Mountain. In this picture it is
                    installed at a US base in Vietnam. It would all fit
                    onto one equipment platform as shown in the second
                    photo. The Torpo gear only takes up 5% of the bunker
                    upper level. You would not need massive air
                    conditioning to cool just the tropo gear. If it could
                    only acted as a repeater why all the extra space? Even
                    accounting for spartan guest quarters for 30 people
                    thee is still a massive ammount of space left over.
                    --- ozob99 <ozob99@...> wrote:

                    > --- In coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, GREG PRICE
                    > <pingsalt@...> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > I always suspected that the mast on the top of the
                    > > Tropo reflectors would support a microwave
                    > antenna. I
                    > > find it interesting that it turned out to support
                    > a
                    > > camera and radiation sensors. A microwave antenna
                    > > would have allowed Spears Mountain to talk to
                    > Dwylyn
                    > > or Tobacco Row. The facility would have allowed
                    > > communications by Tropo or by what is left of the
                    > AT&T
                    > > system. It would be interesting to see how many
                    > and in
                    > > what direction any AT&T cables go.
                    > > I can account for every opening on the surface
                    > except
                    > > one. If anyone does get another tour what is the
                    > > opening in the ground about 20 to 25 feet to the
                    > left
                    > > of the security station door. The other ground
                    > > openings are air intake for the generators or for
                    > the
                    > > main bunkers.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > As i recall this was a repeater only and nothing
                    > came down to baseband
                    > so no need for connectivity elsewhere other than
                    > local
                    > phones,operational comms,alarms/telemetry. The
                    > extra space may have
                    > been a designated or back up site for personnel
                    > relocation like the
                    > other project offices provided.Some L4 main stations
                    > also provided
                    > such space for VIP's of the Bell Operating Company
                    > as an EOC(emergency
                    > operating center), and allegedly made available to
                    > the gov't if needed.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >




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                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Mike Cowen
                    Maybe you could forward the pix to Albert for inclusion in the file repository. All attachments here are stripped off. Mike ... Mike Cowen Practice
                    Message 9 of 15 , May 28, 2007
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Maybe you could forward the pix to Albert for
                      inclusion in the file repository. All attachments here are stripped off.

                      Mike


                      At 03:14 AM 5/28/2007, you wrote:

                      >Attached files show the REL 2600 Tropo Gear that was
                      >installed at Spears Mountain. In this picture it is
                      >installed at a US base in Vietnam. It would all fit
                      >onto one equipment platform as shown in the second
                      >photo. The Torpo gear only takes up 5% of the bunker
                      >upper level. You would not need massive air
                      >conditioning to cool just the tropo gear. If it could
                      >only acted as a repeater why all the extra space? Even
                      >accounting for spartan guest quarters for 30 people
                      >thee is still a massive ammount of space left over.
                      >--- ozob99 <<mailto:ozob99%40yahoo.com>ozob99@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > --- In
                      > <mailto:coldwarcomms%40yahoogroups.com>coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, GREG PRICE
                      > > <pingsalt@...> wrote:
                      > > >
                      > > > I always suspected that the mast on the top of the
                      > > > Tropo reflectors would support a microwave
                      > > antenna. I
                      > > > find it interesting that it turned out to support
                      > > a
                      > > > camera and radiation sensors. A microwave antenna
                      > > > would have allowed Spears Mountain to talk to
                      > > Dwylyn
                      > > > or Tobacco Row. The facility would have allowed
                      > > > communications by Tropo or by what is left of the
                      > > AT&T
                      > > > system. It would be interesting to see how many
                      > > and in
                      > > > what direction any AT&T cables go.
                      > > > I can account for every opening on the surface
                      > > except
                      > > > one. If anyone does get another tour what is the
                      > > > opening in the ground about 20 to 25 feet to the
                      > > left
                      > > > of the security station door. The other ground
                      > > > openings are air intake for the generators or for
                      > > the
                      > > > main bunkers.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > As i recall this was a repeater only and nothing
                      > > came down to baseband
                      > > so no need for connectivity elsewhere other than
                      > > local
                      > > phones,operational comms,alarms/telemetry. The
                      > > extra space may have
                      > > been a designated or back up site for personnel
                      > > relocation like the
                      > > other project offices provided.Some L4 main stations
                      > > also provided
                      > > such space for VIP's of the Bell Operating Company
                      > > as an EOC(emergency
                      > > operating center), and allegedly made available to
                      > > the gov't if needed.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                      >__________________________________________________________
                      >8:00? 8:25? 8:40? Find a flick in no time
                      >with the Yahoo! Search movie showtime shortcut.
                      ><http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/#news>http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/#news
                      >
                      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                      >

                      ---------------------------------------------------------------
                      Mike Cowen Practice random acts of kindness
                      and selfless acts of beauty.
                      mcowen@... -Anonymous



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • John Young
                      A new facility bristling with antenna has been built adjoining the National Martime Intelligence Center (Office of Naval Intelligence) at the Suitland,
                      Message 10 of 15 , May 28, 2007
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                        A new facility bristling with antenna has been built adjoining the National
                        Martime
                        Intelligence Center (Office of Naval Intelligence) at the Suitland,
                        Maryland, Federal
                        Center:


                        http://cryptome.org/oni/oni-eyeball.htm

                        Information on this facility and the likely purpose and identification of
                        its unusual
                        antenna array would be appreciated.
                      • tsniffin20902
                        I may be wrong, but I believe that is the NOAA weather satellite control facility. I seem to recall reading an article about the design-it had more to do with
                        Message 11 of 15 , May 28, 2007
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                          I may be wrong, but I believe that is the NOAA weather satellite
                          control facility. I seem to recall reading an article about the
                          design-it had more to do with aesthetics than functionality. I tried
                          a quick search of the Washington Post archives w/o success. I'll try
                          again later and post if I find anything.

                          Todd
                          --- In coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com, John Young <jya@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > A new facility bristling with antenna has been built adjoining the
                          National
                          > Martime
                          > Intelligence Center (Office of Naval Intelligence) at the Suitland,
                          > Maryland, Federal
                          > Center:
                          >
                          >
                          > http://cryptome.org/oni/oni-eyeball.htm
                          >
                          > Information on this facility and the likely purpose and
                          identification of
                          > its unusual
                          > antenna array would be appreciated.
                          >
                        • Albert LaFrance
                          Some additional observations, which I forgot to include in my original report: There is a large rectangular hatch cover in the upper-level floor, which can be
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jun 7, 2007
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                            Some additional observations, which I forgot to include in my original report:

                            There is a large rectangular hatch cover in the upper-level floor, which can be removed to transfer
                            items between floors via a trolley-type overhead electric hoist.

                            On the wall of the break room, there's a safety award plaque from AT&T's Potomac District (I recall
                            that Potomac *Division* is also mentioned on the plaque). Despite the name, "Potomac" was not a
                            geographically-defined territory. Instead, it encompassed all of AT&T's classified
                            federal-government sites, at least those in the mid-Atlantic.

                            The owner noted that there are mounting rings for terrestrial microwave antennas atop the
                            troposcatter reflectors, though dishes were never installed.

                            Albert
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