Western Union microwave relay sites: Fort Site relay, Pennsylvania

Western Union sign on the Tenley terminal, 2002.

Western Union sign on the Tenley terminal, 2002.

Western Union microwave relay sites survey: Part XIX

Site Name: Fort Site
Call Sign:
State: Pennsylvania
Chicago Road
Type of Facility:
Tower Height: 100′

Fort Site relay location map.

The Fort Site is located inside the Pittsburgh city limits in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It was constructed in the hills of Pittsburgh’s North Side to provide the final link for both legs of the relay triangle entering and leaving the Pittsburgh terminal.

The Fort Site relay was located only 2.2 miles north of the Pittsburgh terminal in the Chamber of Commerce building located in the city’s downtown. Western Union through the Telegraph Realty Company acquired three parcels comprising approximately 9 acres from Lon H. Grant in August 1945. In 1947 the property was transferred to the realty company’s parent, the Western Union Telegraph Company. Western Union owned the property until 1970 when it was sold to the Federal Aviation Administration for $70,000.00.

Fort Site relay tower as viewed from adjacent public housing project. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2004.

Western Union built a 100-foot tower at this relay site situated at 1,230 feet above mean sea level. In 1958 the City of Pittsburgh Housing Authority began acquiring property on which it completed a 999-unit housing project in 1962; the former Western Union site is located adjacent to this complex.

Fort Site relay equipment building. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2004.

During its transition, likely in the 1950s, to second generation microwave equipment the tower likely was removed and replaced with what the company described as twin-masts of the “H type,” essentially a pair of guyed lattice towers, outfitted with passive reflector or parabolic antennas.  In 2004 the site had the twin mast towers with parabolic antennas attached. The Western Union equipment building has been replaced by a two-story building at the base of the tower.

© 2010 David S. Rotenstein

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