Western Union microwave relay sites: Neshanic relay, New Jersey

Western Union sign on the Tenley terminal, 2002.

Western Union sign on the Tenley terminal, 2002.

Western Union microwave relay sites survey: Part XXI

Site Name: Neshanic
Call Sign:
KEA77
State: New Jersey
County:
Somerset
Municipality:
Hillsborough Township
Address:
380 Zion Road
Type of Facility:
Relay
Original
Tower Height: 100′

 

 

Neshanic relay viewed from the road. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2003.

This relay station served both the Philadelphia-New York network and the New York-Washington-Pittsburgh network. Constructed on Sourland Mountain in rural Somerset County at an elevation of 546 feet above mean sea level, this relay station originally was constructed as a 100 feet tower. Western Union paid $600.00 to Michael and Doris Fatto in October 1945 after exercising an option to purchase the property executed in June 1945. The company owned the relay site until 1969, after which the site was transferred several times to various telecommunications entities. It currently is owned by American Tower Corporation.

Neshanic relay tower. Photo in the Records of the Federal Communications Commission, National Archives and Records Administration.

Neshanic relay tower cabin detail. Photo in the Records of the Federal Communications Commission, National Archives and Records Administration

The Neshanic relay was an instrumental site in Western Union’s early field experiments begun in 1945.  By 1947 when Western Union began seriously turning its attention towards using its relay sites for television transmissions, the Neshanic site had been identified as one of two candidates for television equipment in the original system.  At some point in its early years in operation the Neshanic tower was raised from its original 100 feet to 120 feet.  The tower in 2003 was 200 feet high. Surviving Western Union documents do not explain the deviations in design seen in this structure.

Neshanic relay tower. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2003.

Experimental tower ruins, Neshanic relay site. Photo by David Rotenstein, 2003.

© 2010 David S. Rotenstein

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