Lake City Air Force Station

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Lake City Air Force Station (1952-1961) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1952 near Briceville, in both Campbell and Anderson County, Tennessee. Originally named Cross Mountain Air Force Station but redesignated Lake City Air Force Station 1 Dec 1953. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-42. Abandoned in 1961.

Former Lake City AFS Housing Area
Former Lake City AFS Cantonment Area Admin Building and Recreation Building.
Former Lake City AFS Cantonment Area, Motor Pool Bldg. behind Trailer, Administration Bldg. and Recreation Bldg.


Established in 1952 and became operational in March 1952 as Cross Mountain Air Force Station manned by the 663rd AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.

Initial equipment included a pair of FPS-10 search/height-finder radars. The FPS-10 was a stripped down CPS-6B. The station was redesignated Lake City Air Force Station on 1 Dec 1953. An FPS-6 height-finder was installed in 1958 and one of the FPS-10s was removed.

There is some indication that a GPA-37 Radar Course Directing Set was installed at Lake City AFS in the March-July 1957 time frame (maintenance personnel were assigned).

Gap Fillers

Lake City AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote unattended gap-filler radar site. The unattended gap filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites were equipped with short range FPS-14 or FPS-18 search radars and FST-1 Coordinate Data transmitters that sent digitized radar target data to a SAGE direction center and to the main radar site. Both the radar set and the FST-1 were dual channel to increase site up time. Maintenance teams were dispatched for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators on the FSW-1 remote monitoring equipment suggested the site had problems. The FSW-1 also allowed remote operation of specific functions such as channel changes for the radar and for the FST-1, it also allowed remote operation of the diesel generators at the gap filler site. The Lake City AFS gap-filler radar was located at Melvin Hill, North Carolina. This gap-filler was reportedly operational for only a short period of time and two additional sites were planned but never went operational.

Lake City AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-42C Melvin Hill NC FPS-18, FST-1 unk unk 35.20756,
Building still exists


Lake City AFS and the 663rd were deactivated on 1 Jun 1961.

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and two radio sites. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, the backup generators, a mess hall and was located atop Cross Mountain in Campbell County. Both radio sites were also located on Cross Mountain near the main site. The cantonment area and the housing area were located at the base of the mountain in Anderson County. Daily personnel access between the upper sites and the lower sites was by a small tramway some 10,000 feet long (a 22-minute ride).

The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, a dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small housing area for married personnel.

Lake City AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 663rd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1952-1961)
663rd Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at McGhee-Tyson Airport, TN as the 541st Group.
  • Nov 1951 - Moved to National Guard Armory, Marysville, TN.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 30th Air Division.
  • Mar 1952 - Moved to permanent site on Cross Mtn, TN.
  • 5 Aug 1952 - Transferred to 35th Air Division.
  • 1 Dec 1953 - Site redesignated to Lake City AFS, TN.
  • 1 Mar 1956 - Transferred to 58th Air Division.
  • 1 Sep 1958 - Transferred to 35th Air Division.
  • 15 Nov 1958 - Transferred to 32nd Air Division.
  • 1 Jun 1961 - Discontinued.

Lake City Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1959 1960 Major Siegel, Israel D. N/A
Major Lockwood, N/A

Current Status

Sites abandoned and sold to private interests. The main site is now the location for commercial radio and television antennas. It appears from satellite images that the operations and maintenance building still exists. The cantonment area is now owned by a coal company and not open to the public. On-site visit confirms that the motor pool building, the admin building, and the recreation building remain although modified. The barracks buildings are all gone. The housing area remains, with the houses in private hands.

Location: Near Briceville in both Campbell and Anderson County, Tennessee.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.19831 Long: -84.23113

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 3,527'

See Also:


  • Cornett, Lloyd H. & Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization (1946-1980), Office of History ADC, Peterson AFB, Colorado, 31 Dec 1980, 179 pages, Pdf, page 98.
  • Winkler, David F., Searching the Skies: the Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program, USAF Hq Air Combat Command, 1997, 192 pages, Pdf, page 155.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2087774


Visited: 20 May 2016

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