The Original Cedar Hill Tower


You may want to start at the KRLD Pictures Index Page, especially if you have stumbled across this page through the use of a search engine.

 New:   RCA Broadcast News, October 1955  Includes a couple of lengthy articles about the fabrication and construction of the Cedar Hill tower.

 Newer:   Leslie Turner's Old Pictures from KRLD.  A few more pictures from the construction of the Cedar Hill tower, along with some very old photos from KRLD Radio.


Click to enlarge This is the Cedar Hill candelabra tower, back when it was the first big tower at Cedar Hill.  Looking west-northwest.  Notice that Joe Pool Lake is completely absent from the top of the picture.  In fact, it's hard to find any signs of civilization except for a farm house here and there.

Construction of this tower began on May 2, 1955, and was completed by late October 1955.*

This is a really good picture, so I have included a close-up.  (4 Megabytes)

HAZ warningDown in the lower right corner there is a "HAZ" warning sign for pilots, located between the northeast guy anchor and Belt Line Road.  I've never seen that sign, so I guess it must have been removed before 1981.

Closer examination (of this and other photos) reveals the presence of these "HAZ" signs at all three guy anchors.

Click to enlarge Another view of the old Cedar Hill transmitter site shows the transmitter buildings for WFAA-TV and KRLD-TV.  Later, a third building for WBAP-TV was placed between these two, and the Channel 4 antenna was modified for simultaneous use by Channel 5.

Click to enlarge Another view of the tower, looking north.

Also available in a larger version.  (3.11 Megabytes)  The highway behind the tower is FM 1382, and just to the right of the tower you can see the Dallas Naval Air Station, but a photo from the same perspective today would also show several large neighborhoods in Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie.

Click to enlarge Close-up of the top of the tower, taken from the photo above.  Years later, this would become an ENG receive site for WFAA and KDFW.  A military aircraft collided with this tower in April of 1987.  Shortly afterward, a new tower was built about a quarter mile to the southwest, and the candelabra was removed from this tower, leaving a really nice backup tower which is now 1240 feet tall.

Click to enlarge Yet another view of the tower, looking NNW.  Just to the left of the tower you can see Belt Line Road, which used to go through a little valley between the Cedar Hill Tower and I-20.  Joe Pool Lake is there now, and the road is underwater.

This photo is also available in a larger version.

Click to enlarge Another view of the Cedar Hill tower, looking WNW.  Helicopter blade at the top.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Looking up the tower, you can see a series of anemometers along the side.  I recall reading (many years ago) that the FAA placed these anemometers every hundred feet or so, to study changes in wind direction at various altitudes (within the first 1500 feet) above ground.

Also in this shot you can see a couple of six-inch rigid coaxial transmission lines going up the tower.  At that time, six-inch coax (actually 6-1/8") was probably the largest available size.  Today there are larger sizes up to 9-3/16" that look almost like air conditioning ducts.

Updated 5/21/2006:
Data Set DS-9694, "Cedar Hill Tower Data", was collected between 12/23/1960 and 12/21/1962.*  The anemometers were used while studying the behavior of vertically integrated boundary-layer winds, and temperature fluctuations in the atmospheric boundary layer.

Click to enlarge Looking north, another view of the quiet farmland that was once so typical of Cedar Hill.  Today there are a lot of really nice houses in this area.

This tower has ten-inch solid steel legs.  It is quite strong.  The base is a stack of steel plates sitting on a 33-foot hexagon of reinforced concrete, 13 feet deep, and mounted on a three-foot pad.  I was once told that the total downward pressure on the base of this tower, when the candelabra was in place, was 740 tons, including the force resulting from the tension on the guy wires.

Click to enlarge This was the license for the main transmitter, a few years after these pictures were taken.  Included in the license, of course, are the technical specifications of the tower.  Eventually the tower also supported the antenna for WBAP-FM, later known as KSCS.

Back in 1980 and 1981 I worked vacation relief shifts at the KXAS-TV transmitter, which is why I came to appreciate this tower so much.  Working at a transmitter site can be very educational, and 30 years ago it was also a place to send old timers who were nearing retirement.  A few of the old guys just wanted to be left alone, but most of them would gladly teach you everything they knew.

Click to enlarge Detail, showing the transmitter buildings and the Hill Tower building where the electric power feed comes in from two directions.  (That doesn't matter as much today because everybody has generators.)

Also in the Hill Tower building (in the foreground) is an FAA warning beacon on 353 kHz, feeding an antenna suspended between two telephone poles.  (The second of the two poles is off to the left.)  The beacon was originally just to warn pilots about this one tower, but it now warns about the "Cedar Hill antenna farm."




Updated 5/13/2006:
Click to enlarge Another view of the tower from a higher altitude.

The ribbon of trees along the top of the picture shows the path of a creek which became Joe Pool Lake after the dam was built in the early 1980s.

Click to enlarge This is a work of art, if you like turnbuckles.




Updated 8/14/2008:
Click to enlarge Here we see the other end of the guy wire, but this is at the top of the new KDFW/WFAA tower, not the original tower shown above.  Notice the massive gusset plate and other steel hardware in use here.  Notice also that the tower isn't painted orange and white because it has strobe beacons active during the day.

Near the lower right corner of this picture, notice the two cars parked at the transmitter building — about 1500 feet straight down.

Click to enlarge The view from up here is evidently quite good, even on a hazy day.  Downtown Dallas is about 20 miles to the northeast.

After you "click to enlarge" this picture, you'll see a thin white line running down the middle of a residential area at the bottom of the photo.  That's the wall along Clark Road, just northeast of its intersection with FM 1382.



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