Long Lines Site: Prairie Home, MO

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 Prairie Home site appeared in the March 1960 network map as being operational and relaying telephone and television data.

Prairie Home was connected to Slater to the northwest and to Holts Summit to the southeast. Television signals were sent to the Columbia station to the northeast.

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.

A distant view of the Prairie Home tower, as seen from the southwest
A zoomed shot from the same location, southwest of the tower by half a mile
Viewing the tower from the north on Route J. Notice the damaged horns. (Photo taken August 9, 2018.)
The base station
A close shot of the base station entrance. The sign in the red circle is a former AT&T sign that has since been painted over.
A view of the tower. Notice the top two horns (the KS-15676 horn reflectors) have their lens damaged.

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.

Tim Souder, an ex-Long Lines employee who shared these photos on a Long Lines Facebook group, was featured on the cover of the October 25, 1988 issue of Focus, an AT&T internal publication.
“On The Road”, an article in the October 25, 1988 issue of Focus, features the Prairie Home site from when it was still in operation.
A closeup of the photo of the Prairie Home tower from 1988, when it was still in operation.
The article mentions the small size of Prairie Home. Not much has changed.
A closeup of the first few paragraphs of the article, which mentions the Prairie Home site.
The article also has the Kansas City AT&T Central Office/Long Lines building in the background of a photo. The Prairie Home site was on the Kansas City-St. Louis route.

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

Learn More

AT&T Long Lines – A Forgotten System

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