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The second time's the charm

Tower crash leads to quick shipment of new radio tower to fill Rochester's needs.

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KROC-TV's 82-foot RCA-built antenna fell across the corner of the transmitter building on May 14, 1953.
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The weather on May 14, 1953, proved perfect for the job at hand on Hennessy Hill. Workmen from Northwest Radio and TV Maintenance began lifting KROC-TV’s new $40,000 antenna into place while two crewmen waited at the top of the 500-foot tower. The antenna had moved 8 feet when a 60-foot gin-pole on the top of tower snapped in half.

When the dust settled the 82-foot, 4-ton antenna laid crumpled over the corner of the transmitter building. Fortunately, no one, including the tower crew, was injured.

The next morning RCA representatives found an identical antenna that had been shipped to Baltimore three weeks earlier. Since the station had not yet started to build their tower, the antenna was put on the next train to Rochester.

On July 4, the new antenna was lifted without incident. Once the tower crew had it bolted in place, they waved their hats and heaved a sigh of relief.

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The beacon light installed at the top of the antenna shattered as it hit the ground.
Contributed

"Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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