Radiotelephone Service to Europe and Beyond: The Pole Farm in Lawrence, New Jersey

Paramaribo, Willemstad: detail of Antenna map at the Pole Farm, Mercer Meadows.
Last Pole Standing, viewed from the Reed/Bryan farm.

The original telephone system connected phones by copper wire strung up on poles. These “land-lines” faced a problem when confronted with obstacles like the Atlantic ocean, so it was not possible to connect the phone systems of distant countries. In the 1920s, AT&T developed a way of using short wave radio to transmit telephone signals over long distances without wires. In 1928, AT&T bought several farms in Lawrence, New Jersey, cleared the land, and began building a vast antenna array for trans-Atlantic telephone calls. The facility, officially called the American Telegraph & Telephone International Radio Telephone Transmission Station, was only responsible for calls originating in the United States. A separate facility in Netcong, New Jersey, received incoming calls from overseas.

The Lawrence station became known as the Pole Farm because the rhombic antennas that AT&T installed at the site were arranged in a diamond-shaped pattern on wooden poles up to ten stories tall. Each antenna covered 10 acres and connected New Jersey and the rest of the U.S.A. with a single city in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or South America. Hundreds of these poles were arranged over the 800 acre facility. Open areas between the poles were leased to farmers, who had to plow around the many antennas.

Fewer than 50 calls were made on an average day in 1929, in part because a three-minute call to England cost over thirty dollars. The station, however, allowed almost instantaneous communication across the Atlantic Ocean (once trained telephone operators had arranged the connection). By the 1960s, however, international calls were more affordable and over 16,000 telephone calls were transmitted daily through the Pole Farm.

The Pole Farm shut down in 1975, replaced by undersea cables and satellites. Where once there were hundreds of wooden poles, there is now only one. That pole, which once transmitted phone calls to Israel, survived because the farmhouse next to it used it as a lightning rod.

The last pole.

Two buildings, imaginatively named Building One and Building Two, bracketed the antenna field. Both buildings have been demolished, but a memorial to the facility, built over Building One, includes a large concrete and stone map set into the ground, showing the layout of the antennas around the time of World War II. Each antenna is labeled with the city to which it transmitted phone calls.

Berlin, Reykjavik, Moscow, London: detail of Antenna map at the Pole Farm, Mercer Meadows.

The Pole Farm is now part of the Mercer Meadows county park and features restored grasslands, nature trails, and interpretive signs.

Reference:

Yearley, Alexandra
2013 “Pole Farm” remembered in Mercer Meadows plans. https://communitynews.org/2013/02/01/pole-farm-remembered-in-mercer-meadows-plans/

Biking Route 66

The Adventure Cycling Association and other groups are developing a bicycle trail along the route of historic Route 66.

Stephanie Garber owns an RV park in Carthage, Missouri, along USBR 66. Although most of her customers arrive in motor homes or towing campers, so many cyclists now pass through that she created tent camping spaces specifically for them.

But making the route suitable for cyclists was no small task, and choosing the roads to include on the route meant balancing safety, tourism, and history. In addition to assessing factors like traffic volume and speed limits, staying close to the original highway and its Americana was paramount.

See the rest at Get Your Kicks Biking Route 66

Super Cub is Back in the U.S.A.

Honda Super Cub
2019 Honda Super Cub C125

Honda is releasing the newest version of one of the most iconic and best-selling motorcycles in the world,  the Super Cub C125, in the United States.

Available only in a red, white and blue colorway, the Super Cub has a four-speed semi-automatic transmission, 125cc engine, and more style than most bikes twice its size.

2019 Honda Super Cub C125

The Super Cub, in various formats, has been around since 1958, but hasn’t been sold in the U.S. since the 1980s (when it was called the Honda Passport). The Super Cub also was the inspiration for one of the most significant advertising campaigns, introduced in 1963:

The Super Cub, and its variants, have been sold continuously in other parts of the world. The U.S. version will be released in 2019 and has a list price of only $3,599.


Small Towns/Small Cities

Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Source: by Seabear70 [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia CommonsO
Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America is James Fallows and Deborah Fallows take on American towns that are surviving or thriving.

From Curbed:

The focus on dense, walkable, multimodal urbanism, regardless of the size of the city or town, was a common feature of areas the Fallows felt were bouncing back. Many cities are taking advantage of their 19th-century building stock, investing in historic preservation and adaptive reuse. They’re also adding art and music spaces, showcasing how small-town urbanism is alive and well.

 

 

 

Mark Twain’s Tiny House

The place where Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, did much of his writing is an octagonal stand-alone study that his sister-in-law built for him in Elmira, New York. Many of his most famous works, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, were written here. The study was later moved to the campus of Elmira College, where it can be seen today.

Mark Twain's Study

Mark Twain's Study, Rear

Twain Study Plaque

The Landscape A.J. Downing Designed at Springside, New York

Springside is a nineteenth-century park and estate built by Matthew Vassar in Poughkeepsie, New York that is now maintained by a non-profit organization and is open to the public.

Vassar, who made his fortune in brewing beer before founding the women’s college that bears his name, bought 43 acres of land on the south side of Poughkeepsie in 1850 and hired famed landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing and his architect partner, Calvert Vaux, to design a summer estate for him.

Although Downing died in 1852 in a fire on a Hudson River steamship, Vaux and Vassar continued to work on Springside. Vassar moved into the cottage built on the site; a larger villa was planned, but never constructed, as Vassar preferred the smaller cottage. Vassar lived at Springside fulltime beginning in 1867.

After his death, the property passed on to a series of owners, and was subdivided and merged with other properties, but most of the buildings and the constructed landscape survived mostly intact. In the twentieth century, Springside faced a series of threats from development. In 1969, Springside was listed as a National Historic Landmark, but within weeks, the barn and carriage house were burned down by arsonists. In 1970, the property was sold to a developer. In 1976, the cottage was in danger of destruction. The façade of the cottage was removed to the New York State Museum, and the rest of the cottage was destroyed. In the 1980s, under threat of a lawsuit from preservationists, an agreement was reached to preserve about half of the estate and allow the construction of condominiums on the other half.

Springside is now maintained by a nonprofit organization, Springside Landscape Restoration. Now, most of the pathways have been cleared and they curve among the rocky knolls. The original Beautiful and Picturesque landscape now tends more towards the picturesque, with tangled, unkempt plants held partially in check along the pathways.

 

 

South Riverwalk Park in Trenton, New Jersey

The South Riverwalk Park, or Deck Park, was built on top of the Route 29 Tunnel along the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey. The design of the park was informed by the archaeological and historical research conducted prior to construction of the tunnel. A series of arches made of different materials (Steel, iron, brick, wood) represent each century of historic occupation of Trenton. The first arch evokes the construction techniques used by Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Plaques inset into the ground record the many milestones of local history. The south end borders Riverview Cemetery; at the North end, steps lead down to Waterfront Park, the home of the Trenton Thunder, the AA affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Arches
Arches at Trenton South RiverWalk Park

 

Arch
Detail of arch at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
arch
Detail of arch at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Delaware River
Delaware River at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Plaque
Plaque at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
bungalow
Bungalow near South RiverWalk Park