|Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:59 am Post subject: Freel Peak microwave site
Just read your comments on Freel Peak. I am sorry to hear you refer to the old microwave site as the "The ugly microwave eyesore tower thing". I guess it has sentimental value to me. Maybe you don't know the history behind it, and maybe you don't care to know about it.
I don't know where you come from or your age, but back in the late fifties when the site was built, and up until around 1987 it provided television signals from the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Reno, to the South Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Yerington.
A gentleman named Bill Gentry built the site. He is still living and is 89 years old. My father still has dinner with him about twice a month. He also built the cable systems in the communities I mentioned plus many more. He built the first cable system in California. That was in Hidden Valley in 1951. My dad worked for Bill for several years when we moved into Incline Village in 1964. The first time I hiked to the top I was about 15 years old. I would go to the site with my dad in both the winter and summer. In the late 60's Western TeleCommunications, Inc, (WTCI) purchased all of the microwave systems from Bill. My dad stayed on as manager of the Sierra Microwave Division.
After I returned from Viet Nam in 1970 I went to school and landed a job working for WTCI, and Freel was one of my sites. I have hiked the mountain sometimes 6 or 7 days in a row, flown to the site in helicopters, taken pack horses to the site, and was about the third person to put a snow cat on the top. I have spent hours in snow storms and white outs trying to get to the top in cats. I have been lost on the south side late at night in a storm while trying to walk back down to the cat sitting on the ridge. I have rescued my friend and co-worker who crashed in a helicopter at the site when we were slinging in equipment. We were lucky that day no one was killed.
All of that just so people could watch TV. We must have been craze, but you see,,, "The ugly microwave eyesore tower thing" meant a lot to some people.
I suppose it should have been removed when it was decommissioned, but I think the old owner of Heavenly Valley, Bill Kilabuew took over the use permit. He and John Denver liked to fly in and ski down. I seem to remember taking the USFS in on one of my helicopter trips. They were looking at areas Kilabrew wanted to use for heli-skiing.
I have attached a couple of old pictures (click here) of "The ugly microwave eyesore tower thing" when it was being built. My dad probably won't like me sending you the one of him stuck in the cat.
As you see we love the mountain too!
Sincerely, Bill Blas