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AT&T Middletown, VA

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  • Albert LaFrance
    Before this list began, some of us had discussed AT&T s Middletown, VA facility, which the company acquired from Western Union. Although it appears that
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 1999
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      Before this list began, some of us had discussed AT&T's Middletown, VA
      facility, which the company acquired from Western Union. Although it
      appears that Middletown is, and always was, strictly a commercial operation
      with no defense C3I function, it's still interesting.

      The following is from George P. Oslin's "The Story of Telecommunications"
      (p. 417):

      "The U.S. Post Office Department and Western Union jointly started a
      Mailgram Service January 1, 1970 which telegraphed mail to area points from
      which messages were delivered by mail. In 1975, 22.6 million mailgrams
      were sent. In 1972 the company built a large computer switching center to
      handle all telegraph messages at Middletown, Virginia, and phased out its
      fifteen reperforator switching centers."

      A generic press release about AT&T's acquisition of this and other WU
      properties is at http://www.att.com/press/0191/910102.ela.html .

      Middletown is located along route I-81, about 13 mi. SW of Winchester, VA.
      It consists of a large, modern, one-story bulding, a parking lot, and two
      short towers, each with a conical microwave horn (or pair of horns - I
      don't recall). The property is fenced, but the gate was open when I was
      there a year or two ago, and I saw no evidence of extraordinary security.

      The facility came to my attention as I was reviewing FCC records to find
      the still-active microwave stations in the Washington area. Middletown has
      two paths, still licensed as of March 1998. One goes SE, through the Flint
      Hill, Warrenton 2, and Independent Hill stations in VA, and ends at
      Waldorf, MD. Waldorf appears to have a cable connection (L-carrrier
      upgraded to fiber) going back W and N to the Dranesville, VA bunker on the
      east-coast cable route.

      The other microwave path goes ESE to Linden, VA, then NE to Aldie, VA and
      ends at the Monrovia, MD bunker, which is on the same main cable route as
      Dranesville.

      Middletown doesn't appear to have any L-carrier or fiber-optic connections.
      It's interesting that at least some of the microwave stations on the two
      paths are apparently being kept alive just to serve Middletown.

      A banner on the gate said something like "AT&T BMS Messaging Operations
      Centers - Middletown, VA and Bridgeton, MO" and cited ISO-9000/9001 [?]
      quality approvals.

      ...Albert
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