Spring Grove, IL

Text and images courtesy of Terry Michaels

This concrete tower, along with identical towers at Lake Zurich, IL and Prospect, WI, was constructed during the summer of 1948 to provide a one way television route from Chicago to Milwaukee. It was located 500 feet south of the Illinois - Wisconsin state line on the East side of Wilmot Road.

AT&T purchased the property the tower was located on in May, 1946. The tower was constructed by the fixed form method and had the shape of a circular, tapered silo with an overall height of 101 feet to the top platform. A steel stairway was built alongside the silo to provide access to floors 2 thru 5, an additional steel stairway was located within the silo leading from floor 5 to floor 6.

The sixth floor of each tower housed TE-1 microwave equipment. Each tower had a pair of metal lens antennas installed on the lower deck, one facing each direction of the route, these antennas were of a different design than the delay lens antennas used in later installations. This same type equipment was used a year earlier for AT&T's first microwave installation running from New York to Boston.

AT&T only built six towers of this design before switching to the more familiar square, straight sided concrete towers.

The tower was used as a television relay until 1953, at which time a parallel route using TD-2 equipment was built somewhat farther west. The new route ran from Chicago to Minneapolis, with a branching point at Palmyra, WI connecting to Prospect and on to Milwaukee.

In October 1960 AT&T sold the tower and property to John N. Estabrook, who in turn sold the tower and property to the Lake County Forest Preserve District in April, 1967. I have heard that an amateur radio group used the tower as a repeater site for a while, but eventually the tower was abandoned. Over the succeeding years the tower suffered major deterioration from the elements and vandals, and was in poor condition by the time the accompanying photos were taken in 1989. The tower was demolished in 1995 by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

View a microwave route map from 1953, showing Spring Grove and other stations in the area.


Select an image to view a larger version

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Updated on May 14, 2002 at 20:45 by Albert LaFrance