Western Union microwave relay sites: Gambrill Park relay, Maryland

Western Union microwave relay sites survey: Part VII

Site Name: Gambrill Park
Call Sign:
State: Maryland
City of Frederick
East side Gambrill Park Road
Type of Facility:
Tower Height: 60′

Gambrill Park relay station location.

This relay site is located on Catoctin Mountain at an elevation of 1,700 feet above mean sea level. In November 1945 Western Union executed a ten-year renewable lease with the Mayor and Aldermen of Frederick for a 0.92-acre parcel east of Ridge Road. Western Union paid $360.00 annually in rent and was granted the rights to “erect on the premises a tower to be used for the relaying radio signals, and will include in such tower an enclosed cab suitable for forestry observation.” Western Union, in turn, agreed to allow the City of Frederick and the State of Maryland “the right to use and occupy such cab for fire lookout and similar purposes.” A 60-foot tower was built at this site.

Gambrill Park relay plat filed with Western Union 1945 lease. Frederick County Land Records.

Western Union occupied the site until 1990. After the Western Union site went into service, other telecommunications entities, public and private, built facilities close to the Western Union relay. In 1983, AT&T built a tower south of the Western Union relay and the two companies entered into a joint use and maintenance agreement for the access road leading to the two sites from Ridge Road. Western Union terminated its lease with the city and the site, including equipment, buildings, and structures, was leased by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Gambrill Park relay site and later towers as seen from I-70. Western Union relay is the third from the left. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2002.

In 2003 the tower remained in place and was in use by the FAA. The cab had been removed and the equipment building had been replaced by one clad in vinyl siding. The former Western Union relay site became the anchor for an antenna farm that includes five telecommunications facilities.

Gambrill Park relay tower and equipment building. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2002.

© 2010 David S. Rotenstein

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