A colorful chapter of ranch history resides in a 100 foot communications tower (give or take a few feet) with about a 20 foot antennae that stands on top of the hill overlooking headquarters on Dry Creek. In the late 1950’s or early 1960’s Dad erected a tower right alongside the ranch house to support a two-way radio system. Acquisition of a ranch 20 miles east made it necessary to communicate with hired hands and there was no telephone service. Phones were installed in pickups with a base station in the ranch house. The stub of the tower is still planted in the ground right outside a large living room window and is a humorous (to some family members) reminder of an unfortunate (or humorous) INCIDENT.
Brother James was home from college working on a dry farming project just west of the house and as he drove the tractor up the creek bottom, snagged a guy line that was a critical support of the tower. At the time Dad was having an afternoon siesta on the sofa which sat indoors alongside the living room window. The tower collapsed on the roof of the house right outside the window. The scene that unfolded would have been something like this: Dad would leap into the air; dash outside to investigate; let loose with a stream of profanity that would turn the air blue; and discover a collapsed radio tower draped over the house and an unattended tractor sitting down in the creek bed. The tractor driver (brother James) was long gone, knowing it was better to stay away for a few hours until Dad had worn himself out and cooled off. Amazingly, damage to the roof of the house was not too serious!
An insurance settlement and a summer pasture lease negotiated in the mid 1960’s would require yet another tower and radio system. The new tower was erected, this time far enough away from the house that no one could possibly snag a guy wire. If the new tower fell for any reason (wind, lightning etc.), it was far enough from any of the ranch buildings that it could not do any damage. Communications with the mountain camp 65 miles southwest in the Big Horns was successfully launched.
Brother James gathered up the salvage of the old tower and transacted a deal to trade the sections that were not bent to a local rancher for a mammoth antique cast iron stove which he installed in Dad’s new shop. It’s big enough to power a steamship or locomotive when loaded with wood or coal and heats the whole place. Dad was quite happy. Eventually analog cell phones took the place of radio technology and the tower has stood useless except to hang our prayer flags which indicate which direction and how hard the wind is blowing.