Starting in the early 1950s, the AT&T’s Long Lines department began constructing a coast-to-coast microwave relay link. This relay link, which would become colloquially known as the Long Lines system or the “Telephone Skyway” (or just “Skyway”), would carry telephone calls and television programs from coast-to-coast.
The Long Lines microwave system would remain in service until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when they were gradually replaced with fiber optics.
Former Long Lines sites can be found in urban areas with the iconic horn antennas situated on the top of buildings and former telephone offices. However, many Long Lines sites can be found in the middle of cornfields, some far away from the nearest town. Many sites were even hardened to keep the system online in the case of a nuclear attack, to allow communication networks to stay online after an attack. Some Long Lines sites housed AUTOVON and other important defense and government-related networks from the Cold War.
While most sites have been abandoned by AT&T and stand as a reminder of the Cold War, others have been repurposed into cell phone antennas, ham radio and CB radio masts, and much more. Some of the hardened and underground stations have been turned into bunkers.
My goal is to photograph former Long Lines sites in the Central/Western-Central Missouri area. Here are the ones already photographed. (Sites with asterisks were photographed by others.)
- Aullville, MO (Lafayette County)
- Brinktown, MO (Maries County)*
- Dover, MO (Lafayette County)*
- Holden, MO (Johnson County)
- Holts Summit, MO (Callaway County)
- Jefferson City, MO (Cole County; Central Office and fmr. Long Lines site)
- Prairie Home, MO (Cooper County)
- Slater, MO (Saline County)
- Windsor, MO (Johnson County)
Update (5/19/2021): I’m hoping to photograph additional Long Lines sites later this summer, especially those on the western side of the state. For more information, see this update.
Missouri site pages on other websites:
- Ballard, MO (Bates County)
- Elkhorn, MO (Ray County)
- Grays Summit, MO (Franklin County)
- Hermann, MO (Gasconade County)
- Hillsboro, MO (Jefferson County – major facility and AUTOVON switch)
- Joplin, MO (Jasper County)
- Kansas City, MO (Jackson County; Regional Headquarters)
Links with asterisks were photographed by others.
Long Lines Map (Under Construction)
A custom Long Lines map with photos and links to additional information on each site. (Teal pins were photographed/detailed info published by me. Purple pins are sites photographed by others. Orange pins represent Bell Central Offices which served as Long Lines sites. Red and light blue pins are incomplete or have no information/photos.)
- Long Lines.net – Albert LaFrance’s Long Lines website, a wealth of information and incredible resource.
- The Central Office – website with photos of Bell System/RBOC Central Offices
- N3TUQ – Long Lines Map – a nice, complete map of Long Lines sites across the nation.
Updated 7-29-2021. Copyright 2018-2021 Garrett Fuller.