ggn information systems WMTW-TV & FM
Mount Washington TV Inc.
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WMTW: fire on the mountain.
Those of you familiar with this website are aware of my love and interest
with Mount Washington and it's broadcast history, going back to the
Yankee experimental FM station W1XER.
Tragedy struck the mountain top. A fire on Sunday February 9, 2003 destroyed the building formerly occupied
by WMTW-TV. The television station had moved it's transmitting facility in February of 2002 to a new location in Baldwin Maine.
WMTW-TV had thru the years, been the "public utility", generating all electricity for the occupants of Mt. Washington.
The state of New Hampshire had recently acquired the former WMTW-TV building and was operating the generating plant.
The WMTW-TV building is gone, as well as it's closest neighbor the Yankee Power Building.
Yankee Power housed the FM transmitters (main & backup) for WHOM, 94.9 and some microwave relay equimment.
WHOM's transmitters are toast. Both FM antennas were attached to this structure and surely suffered heat damage.
The Yankee Building was spared, it is home to a host of wireless services, and a North Conway FM station.
Aerial photograph of Mt. Washington taken February 11, 2003 by Drew Knightly of Yankee Microwave, Inc
Left photo is wide overview, closeup on right clearly shows damage.
The Yankee Power Building was a part of FM history on Mount Washington and the nation.
The Yankee Power Building/House is so called because it housed the original power plant for Yankee FM.
The staff and transmitter were housed in the Yankee Building, which is separate, and was not affected by the fire.
The media types have not been totally accurate in the history of the buildings involved in the fire.
To set the record straight; Yankee dates back to 1937 with APEX station W1XOV, located in the basement of the former
Mount Washington Observatory building. (That building no longer exists, it was dismantled after construction of the
new Sherman Adams Building in 1979). In the spring of 1942, Yankee erected the Power Building, which was necessary
to provide the power required for it's new FM station (W1XER). The WMTW-TV plant was constructed in 1954.
It's ironic that Yankee had decided that the Power Building should be a "stand-alone" structure as a precaution against
a generator fire, and that sixty years later it would fall victim to a generator fire from an adjoining building..
When WMTW-TV designed their building, it was decided to use the "waste heat" from the generators to heat the living quarters.
The 1937 Yankee FM tower, which withstood the hurricane of 1938, as well as being a Mt. Washington landmark, has survived.
The following photos are powerful enough to stand on their own without commentary.
A New Normal on the Mountain
Before and after views from approximately the same vantage point
The Yankee FM Tower returns to it's roots
(on a standby basis)
Originally constructed in 1937 for use by W1XER,
the Yankee Network's experimental FM station.
It would later become commercial station W39B.
The call letters would change to WMTW followed by WMNE.
The REL transmitter was located in the Yankee Building.
The station ceased operations on September 28,1948.
The tower would later be used by WMTW-TV, channel 8
(the tower is sometime referred as Alford or Armstrong.)
Coming full circle, FM returns to the tower, as WHOM's
standby antenna, the transmitter is in the new WHOM bldg.
On Friday October 10, 2003, I made a pilgrimage to the mountain top, via the auto road.
Six inches of snow and drifts up to four feet had closed the road earlier in the week.
The day of my visit saw clear skies with afternoon temperatures in the mid 50's with no wind.
(Official Mount Washington Observatory readings....HI of 54 degrees, average wind 25mph)
I was fortunate to visit with Steve Vanni and his crew, as well as Drew and Rawn from Yankee Microwave.
Steve Vanni's Technet Systems is the prime contractor for rebuilding the WHOM plant on the mountain.
In the aftermath of the fire...
the first order of the day was to restore electrical power to the mountain.
"WMTW-TV" was the only source of power.
The Mount Washington Observatory, for the first time in it's history
had to be evacuated overnight, since there was no heat for the staff.
Small generators were quickly brought up
to restore basic power needs on the mountain.
A short time later, two 200 KW generators were transported
to the mountain top via the 3 miles of the Cog Railway.
They will supply the power needs of the mountain.
Consideration is being given to getting power to the mountain
using the "right-of-way" of the Cog Railway.
The two generators pictured above, which are located as part of
the Sherman Adams Summit Building, have now been winterized.
A plywood structure was fabricated enclosing the generator housings.
Allowing space on the inside, to perform maintenance on the units,
somewhat sheltered from the weather..
Yankee Microwave had to install replacement radio units in the
Yankee Building as well as "dishes" that were destroyed in the fire.
Yankee Microwave has equipment in several locations on the mountain,
including the Yankee Power House and the
WMTW-TV buildings which were destroyed by the fire..
WPKQ, the newcomer to the mountain, has been operating at full power.
Located in the Yankee Building, it was not seriously affected
by the fire, except for loss of primary power.
Some equipment failed as the generators self-destructed.
At WHOM, a 4 KW FM transmitter was moved to the mountain,
to be later replaced by a 10 KW rig. They were temporarily
located in a "bedroom" of the Yankee Building.
Service was initially restored using the main antenna,
at a reduced power level, since it suffered heat damage.
The standby antenna was severely damaged and was dismantled.
A new 3 bay standby antenna was erected on the the Yankee FM Tower
(also referred to as the Armstrong Tower/Alford Antenna) and was placed in service.
Temporary raceways for transmission lines
used by WHOM and Yankee Microwave
Meanwhile, work was being performed on restoring the main 8 bay antenna.
WHOM was still operating with STA's at reduced power.
October 9, 2003
Eight months to the day, Superstation WHOM inaugurates full power
from their new HOME, using it's refurbished main antenna
WHOM's new transmitter home is a self-contained pre-fabricated steel building.
This is a temporary location, until such time as the State of New Hampshire
decides on the future plans for the site.
The new building is cleverly positioned, maintaining a low profile on the horizon,
providing minimal visual impact on the peak.
It's nestled well below the crest of the mountain, below the former
Yankee Power House and WMTW-TV buildings which were destroyed by the fire.
Most of the debris from these buildings has been removed,
leaving only the cement footprints of the base and /or crawlspace.
Facing south from Yankee tower
Looking northeast from below peak
Facing west from lower parking area
As can be seen in the photo on the right, the main WMTW-TV Traveling Wave antenna had been removed
after the move to "Baldwin", leaving behind only the supporting structure. The two microwave redundant
STLs for WHOM are mounted on the main WHOM antenna and on the "rack" to the right of photo.
The transmitter plant is state-of-the-art technology. Completely redundant.
The two 30 KW transmitters can be switched into either antenna or dummy loads.
There are two audio/STL paths ensuring complete reliability.
The WHOM transmitter site was a turnkey project of Steve Vanni's Technet Systems . Job well done!!
October 3. 2003
October 4, 2003
October 7, 2003
provided by Doug Ferguson, a supporter and friend of this
website, as well as Ben Gore and Yankee Microwave.
ALL photos can be enlarged by "clicking" on