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FAA Long Range Radar Site (St. Albans Air Force Station)
The greenery of Bellevue Hill is capped with a large, white globe, highly visible south and east of exit 19 on I-89. This out-of-place object is indicative of the strategic importance of the proximity to the U.S./Canadian border during the Cold War. In 1950, during the Korean War, the U.S. Air Force selected this location, with its unobstructed views in all directions, to construct a radar site as part of their network for providing early warnings of bomber attacks from across the North Pole. More than 300 military and civilian personnel eventually occupied the site.
The heart of the operation was the radar tower buildings, where personnel monitored information from roof-mounted equipment. Several of these structures were added to the site during the 1960s, along with some forty buildings that housed administrative offices, dormitories, recreation facilities, a generating plant, and a sewage disposal system.
By the 1970s, a variety of factors rendered the site obsolete: the switch in strategic threat from bombers to intercontinental ballistic missiles, the construction of missile silos in Swanton and Alburg (operative 1962–1965 and commanded from the Plattsburgh, New York, Air Force base), and the development of radar covering broader areas from a single facility. In 1979 the site was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Today the FAA operates the last standing radar tower. Built in 1957, it is topped with a large, white fiberglass radome that dates from 1995 and controls air traffic in the region. The remainder of the site is largely abandoned, a desolate reminder of the cold war that dominated international relations during the second half of the twentieth century.
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