The Long Lines site near Prairie Home, MO was part of the AT&T (Bell) Long Lines network between the 1950s and 1980s. The Prairie Home site relayed telephone and television signals during the time.
The tower is situated approximately three miles southwest of the small town of Prairie Home on Route J. Prairie Home is located in southern Cooper county, and therefore the tower is situated half-way between Saint Louis and Kansas City.
Due to the tower’s size, it can be seen from miles. It also has an indicator beacon light on the top in order to alert aircraft of its existence.
Due to it’s location (half-way between two major cities), the tower would’ve endured high traffic during its operation, especially since most cross-country telephone calls or television programs would have went through this tower.
The tower still has nine horn antennas, although the two top-most KS-15676 horn-reflectors have their weather cover/lens completely damaged.
Site History and Information
The station appears to be non-functional. According to the FCC’s ASR database, the tower is currently owned by the Cooper County government. The AT&T sign near the front entrance to the base station has been painted over, and no other signs have been placed on the property. The station was likely abandoned by AT&T in the late 1980s or early 1990s as they replaced the microwave relay technology with fiber optics. While the station appears to be non-functional, it appears that a new air conditioning system was recently installed.
History – “AT&T Focus”
Tim Souder, an ex-Long Lines employee, posted these pictures of an article featured in the October 25, 1988 issue of Focus, an internal publication for AT&T employees, on a Long Lines Facebook group. Souder was featured on the cover and did some work at the Prairie Home site when it was in operation.
Special thanks to Tim Souder for sharing and granting permission to publish here.
Among other local technicians responding to this particular post, Tim wrote the following in response to my modern photographs:
Hunters shot the damn things [fiberglass face on the KS-15676 horns] all the time causing 0 air pressure of the waveguide. We would have to either swing around from side or bail off from the top and hang out there and patch to get pressure back up. The newer Gabriel horns had a Teflon face and was pushed out… I’m sure they thought if they shot it would pop… they don’t. Just created work for us.-Tim Souder
In “AT&T Long Lines – A Forgotten System,” I discuss my personal connection with the Slater, MO tower which this tower is linked to towards the northwest. I also discuss the history of the Long Lines network – specifically the microwave relay network – and its importance on telecommunications.
Pictures taken May 30, 2018 using a Samsung Galaxy Express Prime 2, unless otherwise stated.
“Focus” section added 4-16-2021