I spent Monday afternoon / evening in Denver hanging out with Aryntha and Rai. There were some important papers that needed to be taken to the accountant downtown and I was in the mood for a nice drive, so I made the trip. On the way down I got the idea to engage in one of my hobbies while I was down there: The researching of old phone systems.
Years and years ago AT&T helped win the cold war by creating a nuclear bomb proof long distance telephone network that spanned the North American Continent. They dug a trench clear across America for this coaxial line and put in blast-hardened microwave relay sites all over the US. Well, several of these old Transcontinental Cables run right though Denver and it’s not well documented by the groups I belong to.
So I swung by and picked up Ayntha and Rai, who are both into this telephone infrastructure thing. We were well armed for this adventure with my Olympus c2100-uz camera, Aryntha’s Sony and Canon cameras, 2 GPS units (one with street level mapping and the other for simple lat/lon averaging), three cell phones, and two bags of munchies and drinks.
We headed south to a location near Chatfield reservoir where, years ago, Aryntha and I had found an actual manhole for the old system… Unlike municipal manholes, the old L-Carrier types were about 6 feet across and sealed with odd 5-sided bolts. Our intent wasn’t to enter said manhole, but to just get a few pictures and maybe a GPS fix for posterity… Well, we looked around the area for about a half an hour and it appears that they removed it and the vault it covered. This isn’t completely unbelievable as Denver has “sprawled” about 10 miles south since the last time we were there. Places that used to be nothing but open fields and rocks are now housing developments and strip malls.
Well, with that being a bust we headed north along Kipling (the Transcon route across Denver) to the western suburbs of Denver where the AT&T “longlines” building for the lines should have been. We weren’t successful in finding it either. Later I believe I found the address for it and we’ll search for it next time. Hopefully they haven’t torn it down to put in some 50 family high rise or something.
For our last attempt we headed north again to Broomfield to get some photos of what used to be a huge microwave relay site on the Transcontinental route. Fortunately it’s still there and we were able to get some photos and a GPS fix.
The site is owned by American Tower now (as is most of the old AT&T network) and the plethora of microwave horns has been removed to make space for the plethora of cell antennas.
The Broomfield tower used to be one half of the microwave link to Buckhorn Mountain which then took the call north into Nebraska. I figure with a good telescope you could probably see Buckhorn from Broomfield as both towers sit on mountains that are about 1000’ above a vast, flat plain that fronts the eastern side of the Rockies…
When I was 8-10 years old I remember we would drive by this site on the way to my grandmother’s house in Golden. I’d always question my father about the site and he’d invariably give me another 10 minute lesson in microwave radio or telephone technology. I think he was an old school phreak… He was into radio, telephone, and electronics; all the appropriate hobbies and even worked for Raytheon as a senior electronics engineer, but he never admitted anything “phreaky” to me.
Well, once we were satisfied that we were in possession of some history to preserve we headed downtown so that I could finish my mission with the accountant. We drove though a torrential downpour complete with hail which had me parking on a sidewalk under some trees for a few minutes.
To complete the evening we had dinner over at Mimi’s Café in Aurora.
I spent the night at their place (getting to sleep at about 4am) and headed back up the mountain at about 9am. I rolled into the store at about 11, dealt with everyone and everything that needed to be dealt with, and then left early to head home and get some more sleep.
Thus ended my Tuesday.
Well, I’m off to pack my lunch and open the shop. Catch ya later.