The Old Radar was made up of nine Buildings connected by an enclosed roadway, which was called "the tunnel", stretching for over a mile.

There were four stationary detection radar antennae, each about the size of a football field arranged in an arc, facing generally north.
In front of each antenna was a scanner building which housed the "organ pipe scanner" which provided the radar energy and scanning motion to the stationary antenna.

Since the detection radar antennae were too large to move, the organ pipe scanner moved the beam in relation to the antenna.

It got its name from the arrangement of several dozen waveguides or pipes, which were fed from a rotating waveguide switch.

The pipes, each connected to a feed horn, formed two horizontal rows, one above the other.

The beam from each antenna provided radar coverage of 40 degrees, yielding a total of 160 degrees of radar detection over the pole.

The four fan-shaped beams of radar energy would provide a warning of every missile firing that took place in the Soviet Union.

The job of BMEWS was to remove any surprise, assuring Soviet destruction if they launched an attack.

Between each of the four scanner buildings, about an eighth of a mile down the tunnel were a transmitter building.

Running through the tunnel were literally miles of waveguide, connecting the scanners to the transmitters, with several sources of energy each.

Hundreds of miles of inch-thick, multi-conductor cable also ran down the tunnel in cable trays stretching between the buildings carrying control, communication and radar receiver information.

A five-billion-dollar project (in 1960 dollars), the Air Force demanded, and got, perfection.

At the end of the tunnel were the site mess hall, a machine shop and the J-Site Power Plant which is still in operation and furthermore serves as back-up for the base.

Providing transportation between the buildings was a passenger trolley made up of a warehouse tug and several warehouse trailers which had a bench seat built down the middle and enclosed against the cold.

It made scheduled trips from one end of the tunnel to the other, stopping at each building to pick up and discharge passengers and small cargo.





Here are a personal story mailed to me on may 25, 2007 from John Bryer

I went up in September of 1960 as a driver in the RCA motor pool.
Anyone who rode the tunnel train in those years, probably rode behind me at some time.
But the memory I have is of the dreaded “Phase Patrol”
As a motor pool driver, It was my job to drive the big Cat tractor down the road from the radar site with a guard to check out weather conditions on the road.

The tractor had a 5 speed transmission with a split axle and air brakes designed to stop a huge and heavy construction trailer.
We climbed in the cab up at the lot in front of the BMEWS tunnel and headed over the lip onto the road down the hill.
If you’ve ever seen it, you will appreciate how steep and long the descent was.
As we went over the edge from the upper lot to the downhill, I decided (foolishly) to shift.
I didn’t make it into gear, so we were rolling uncontrolled down the hill, with an abrupt right hand turn at the bottom,
or else off into the rocks and ice cap.
As we used to say: “ only me and the laundry man knew how scared I was.”
Lacking any other options, I caressed the air brakes all the way down, hoping I could keep the speed down to a rate that would make the turn.
Fortunately, that was the way it turned out.
I never did find out if the guard knew our peril, but I’ve never forgotten it, and that was 45 years ago.

Here are a personal story mailed to me on June 12, 2007 from Michael Boyce

My father worked for RCA at Griffis Air Force Base in Rome, NY for many years. During that time I used to go into work with him on weekends and became very familiar with the Air Force Supply System and RCA stock control and accounting procedures. I went to Thule, right out of high school, after a stint in New Jersey, in August 1966. I stayed the full 18 months and worked in both the RCA warehouse on base (next to Base Supply) and on J-Site. Some of the more memorable moments were the bus crash on the way to work one night and of course the B-53 crash. During that time I handled all of the spares for the implementation of the J-Site power plant, consisting of 2 Enterprise Diesel engines, and about 12 Fairbanks- Morse engines. When those came on-line the power ship was pulled out by a seagoing tugboat. I also handled all of the parts requisition for the microwave installation at J-Site. When I left Greenland worked on a project at Clear Air Station, Alaska where we actually identified all of the spares (more than 100, 000) so the could be automated into the RCA Stock Control and Accounting System. My father, Jack F. Boyce, was the team leader on that project.