By Barbara Mellon
The answers came from as far away as Florida. Some came via email, others via phone. And of course a few were delivered over Wednesday night dinner at Woody’s. And, for the most part, they all told different parts of the same story.
Tying it all together, here is what I’ve gleaned of the history of the pictured structure, as related by Gazette readers.
Erected sometime between the early 1950’s and early 60’s on property purchased from the Herr family, the original function was as a Civil Defense tower. After World War II, during the Cold War with Russia, networks of radar towers, such as the DEW (distant early warning) Line, were built throughout Canada and the United States.
The radar stations were self contained, having their own water, heat and electricity.
Members of the U.S. Air Force staffed the Herr Road site. They boarded in the village, and at least one of them married a girl from Andes.
A couple of readers particularly remembered the aircraft that flew through the area during tests of the system. The sight of low-flying planes, accompanied by ear-shattering noise, was frightening and quite unforgettable.
With the advent of more sophisticated defense systems, the Andes site became obsolete after a short period of time and was dismantled in the late 60’s or early 70’s, leaving only the platform in place. Attempts by the government to sell the property were unfruitful for quite a while, and it was eventually acquired by a neighboring property owner. It was rumored that development of a radio station was possible, but that idea never came to fruition.
Today, the site is again important to the safety of the residents of Andes and surrounding communities. Now referred to as the Craig Hill Tower, it houses antennas that are used by Delaware County for fire/emergency communications.
The Gazette would like to thank the following individuals who shared their ideas and information with us:
Dorothy Andrews, Andes, NY
Jim Andrews, Andes, NY
Bob Baehler, Harford, PA
Vicki Bush, Andes, NY
Sharon and John Drew, Andes, NY
Suzanne and Bud Gladstone, Andes, NY
Charles Huber, Andes by way of Florida
Tina and Shayne Moshier, Andes, NY
Ruth Powell, Lovingston, VT
Bill Taylor, Andes, NY