Big Mountain White Alice Communications Site
Big Mountain White Alice Communications Site (1957-1979) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Communications Station, a part of the Alaska White Alice Communications System (WACS). Located 28 air miles from Iliamna, Alaska. The site system ID was "BMX".
After HF radio systems proved inadequate for command and control communications in Alaska, the Air Force implemented the White Alice Communications System (WACS). This was a system of tropospheric scatter and microwave radio relay sites constructed during the mid-1950s and 1960s to provide reliable communications to Alaska Air Command (AAC) AC&W radar system. The system came to encompass facilities for the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line and the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) in Alaska. While some of the WACS microwave sites remain active the WACS tropo sites were closed circa 1979 as communications technology rapidly changed to embrace communications satellites.
This site was built between 1956-1957 and was officially activated on 7 Sep 1957. This was a split site with the radio relay equipment and crew quarters on the upper site. The lower site was adjacent to a gravel airstrip and provided a staging area for airlifted equipment, supplies and personnel. Facilities at the lower site included three fuel tanks (two 1,000-gallon and one 42,400-gallon), a small vehicle repair shop and a small flight operations building.
The access road to the upper site started at the runway and wound up to the upper site. Original facilities on the upper site included a 7,200 square-foot equipment/power building, a 7,200 square-foot 16-person dormitory, a temporary storage building and two above ground fuel storage tanks. Radio relay equipment on the upper site included two pairs of 60' billboard tropo antennas and a pair of 30' tropo dish antennas. The 30' antennas operated at 1 kW each while the 60' antennas operated at 10 kW each.
The Big Mountain WACS site was a Tropo and Microwave station linking Diamond Ridge, King Salmon, Sparrevohn and locally the town of Iliamna. One pair of 60' tropo antennas faced Diamond Ridge (128 miles), a second pair linked Sparrevohn (120 miles) and a pair of 30’ dishes linked to King Salmon (70 miles). There was also a link across Lake Iliamna to the town of Iliamna.
Alaska Telephone Switching Station (ATSS-4A) switching capability was added in 1969 to Pedro Dome, Big Mountain, Neklasson Lake and Kalakaket Creek. These four facilities formed a large rectangle and were linked so that if one facility failed, circuits would be switched so that the other three could still communicate.
The specific links from Big Mountain WACS (BMX) as/of July 1977 were:
This site was closed on 27 Apr 1979 as the major White Alice terminals were replaced by Alascom satellite terminals.
From the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Spill Prevention and Response Database:
The Big Mountain Radio Relay Station (RRS) is located approximately 220 air miles southwest of Anchorage, AK on the southern shore of Iliamna Lake. The RRS consisted of two main camp areas referred to as the Lower Camp and the Upper Camp. The Lower Camp facility included a gravel airstrip and former operational support facilities. The Upper Camp was an antennae array and support facilities, including living quarters for site personnel who supported the installation’s operational mission. The Former Equipment and Power Building area (SS010a) is located in the Upper Camp area. The 7,200 square foot building was located within the antennae network and was used to store facility materials/equipment as well as house communication equipment and four diesel generators used to power the facility. All facility communication equipment was located in the east portion of the building. This building and its contents were removed during Clean Sweep activities in 2003 and 2004 and the concrete pad was removed and disposed of in 2005. Former file number 2518.38.006 consolidated with 2518.38.001.
The site has been demolished leaving only the access road and the airstrip.