The AT&T Long Lines site near La Cygne, KS was a microwave relay site used for relaying microwave signals carrying telephone and television traffic. The site was used between the 1950s and 1990s, when the technology was made obsolete in favor of newer technologies such as fiber optics.
The La Cygne site was part of two main routes: a north-south route running from Elk Horn, IA to Oklahoma City; and a “loop route” that extended from Helena, MO to Fairview, KS.
A March 1960 Long Lines microwave map shows La Cygne carrying only television traffic on the Elk Horn-Golden City Junction, MO route. (This route was later extended to run to Oklahoma City.) The Helena-Fairview route was still under construction at this point.
A 1966 map shows La Cygne carrying both television and telephone traffic on the Elk Horn-Oklahoma City route. (The route was extended from Golden City Junction to Oklahoma City by this point.) The Helena-Fairview route was constructed, with telephone-only traffic being relayed through La Cygne. A portion of the Helena-Fairview route, between La Cygne and Worden, KS, was being expanded to also carry television traffic at this time.
La Cygne had four hops: to the northwest to Paola, KS on the Helena-Fairview “loop route”; to the north-northeast to Louisburg, KS on the Elk Horn-OK City route; to the east-northeast to Dayton on the Helena-Fairview “loop route”; and finally to Hume, MO on the Elk Horn-OK City route.
The La Cygne facility is located approximately 48 miles south-southwest from the regional headquarters in Kansas City.
The La Cygne site is located less than a mile off Highway 69 on 399th Street. The facility consists of the ubiquitous free-standing lattice tower and a brick building. The building consists of some interesting architectural elements which were common of older Bell System coaxial/K-carrier repeater huts, which were installed many decades before the Long Lines system was constructed. Another example of a former repeater hut-turned-Long Lines site featuring early 20th century Bell System architecture is Aullville, MO.
Currently, the building appears to be used as a cell site. The building, unfortunately, appears to be in poor shape. A portion of the building is flooded, including the generator room. The original genset appears to still be installed, although flooded.
Photos – July 2021 (submitted)
Tim Souder, an ex-Long Lines employee, posted these photos on the Long Lines Facebook group. He gave me permission to republish the photos here. Special thanks to Tim for allowing me to use these photos. Along with the photos, Tim wrote the following:
La Cygne KS probably around 18” of water in the basement. Was surprised the phone took that clear of pic of the water. Climbed this many many times from waveguide work, air leaks and lights. We also replaced the beacon with a strobe.-Tim Souder
©2021 Garrett Fuller. Photos ©2021 Tim Souder. Published 7-29-2021