Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prepare: Long Lines

Every heard of Long Lines? This was an ATT/DoD project from the 1950's and 60's which built thousands of microwave communications facilities across the United States. Why? In the event of a nuclear war, the Pentagon wanted to ensure that dial tone phone service was still available.

Long Lines consisted of dozens of interconnected facilities with line of site microwave communications between each other. The first facilities were constructed in the high population areas of the Northeast in proximity to Washington DC, but eventually, they were found throughout the US.

Long lines facilities were and still are easy to spot. They have these trademark microwave antennas on top which were sometimes called "sugar scoop" antennas. You have probably seen one of these facilities when travelling or maybe one is near where you live.

What happened to Long Lines service? First, it was limited to government use only. In fact, may service members used Long Lines to make calls home from remote locations. However, after the introduction of fiber optics and other high speed communications mediums, Long Lines was eventually decommissioned.

Most of the facilities were sold in the early 1990's to American Tower, a cell phone tower company who in turn, sold many of the facilities to the general public.

Why does this matter?

Long Lines facilities were hardened facilities built to withstand a nuclear war. While most are above ground., many featured large underground areas with sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities for crews who were expected to continue working on site after "The Big One" dropped.

While some Long Lines facilities are still in use, many still come up for sale at times and while they may need work, most are found in remote or rural areas which makes them an interesting possibility for a bug out location.

Don't pull out the checkbook yet. Early on, some of these locations were priced as low as $25,000.00, the larger sites with underground facilities were much more expensive and many have already been reclaimed as data centers and records storage sites.

I checked out a couple of sites including the great Long Lines site which features the whole interesting history of the project and the great people who worked there and found they have many of the locations identified as well. It's worth research and learning more about our Cold War past and what we were willing to do to keep the phone lines open during a crisis.

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