Episode 6: Cold War Era Radio Microwave Tower

September 16th, 2010Posted by admin

Red Scare!

I had referred to this structure as a crane so many times I was shocked to learn that it wasn’t the case at all. Given its close proximity to the Queenston Quarry that label just seemed to fit, despite the fact that upon closer inspection there are no obvious pulley systems up top. The truth is far more interesting.

This rusted tripod is in fact a Cold War era radio microwave communications tower. It was built by Fleet Industries in the 1950s under contract from Siemens Electric, and used to calibrate large parabolic dishes that were apparently destined for the D.E.W. Line. The Distant Early Warning line was a string of radar stations north of the arctic circle which stretched all the way from Alaska to Baffin Island, tasked with monitoring the airspace for any incoming threat from the Soviet Union.

More than 100 dishes are said to have been tested here, calibrated by sending signals back and forth to another tower in the vicinity of Line 9 and the Niagara Parkway in the village of Queenston. I’ve yet to find the exact spot but I am looking.

If this operation required some of the tree cover on the escarpment to have been cleared, in the 50 years since most of it has grown back and the site itself is in a fair amount of disarray. The remnants of old campfires and an unfortunate amount of broken glass litter the site, which is unmarked.

A developer who was interested in building a resort (of some sort) at the now-defunct Queenston Quarry suggested memorializing this site but nothing’s come to fruition yet. That developer should get a fair amount of credit though for unveiling the history behind this spot as part of their proposal.


  • http://bletheringeejit.myopenid.com/ Just another hiking eejit

    Good waymark. I have been curious about this structure as well.

  • http://bletheringeejit.myopenid.com/ Just another hiking eejit

    Good waymark. I have often passed this structure, and thought it was part of the quarrying equipment.

  • http://www.adamwhite.org Adam White

    That’s what I always thought! Although now that I look at where it is, sitting right on the edge of the escarpment and not in the quarry at all, I suppose it makes sense that it’s not.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=599075844 Jim Brown

    Great video. Back in the day there was an access road from York Road leading up. This is also very close to Shaeffes Path to Victory. I have some old photos of the original tower and will share them if I can dig them up. I aso know a fellow that worked for Fleet on the towers and see if I can get any more information on them…thanks for sharing Adam

  • http://www.adamwhite.org Adam White

    That would be amazing Jim! Anything you have to shed more light on this site would be most welcome and I’d love to share it with people.

  • Rick Davies

    I’ve past this thing many times also, but knew what it was from the Bruce Trail Guide book. When I first saw it was during the time that Myst was very popular, and it always reminded me of something from those games.

  • http://reclaimedbynature.com Brad

    Fascinating, I’ll have to stumble down there and check it out. I love abandoned structures with such an interesting history to them. Good find!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcarthur17 David McArthur

    That would definitely make sense. 

    Any luck with the second tower?