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[p. 75]

Medford's sky-scraper—the Tufts Telegraphic tower.

TO keep pace with modern invention the American Radio and Research Corporation have recently erected on the easterly slope of College hill a towering framework of steel, three and one-half feet square, continuing the same size to a height of three hundred feet.

It is built of structural steel bolted together, braced diagonally in all directions, and rests in a concrete base a foot in thickness. This in turn rests upon insulating material on a concrete foundation several feet in the ground, the insulation and complete separation being needful for the satisfactory use and service of the tower.

From its top the antennae are to communicate with a new building on the hill slope. The stability of this lofty and slender tower depends entirely upon the series of guys that are attached thereto at various intervals in its height, and which reach back to anchorages of concrete embedded in the ground. Much comment was expressed during its construction, relative to its permanent security, and some even wondered if ‘they owned up there.’ The college flag, of brown and blue, was one day displayed from its dizzy height. On another day, and at varying elevations, some acrobatic stunts were performed by some of the more daring workmen.

The most thrilling sensation, however, came on Sunday, September 26, last. Soon after noon a slight rain storm came on, accompanied by a westerly wind which soon became a gale, in fact, in its force, a sort of young hurricane. The lower portion of the structure was protected by the intervening hill-top and buildings, but the higher part and the topmost section, said to have been but temporarily secured, received the full impact of the gale. Yielding thereto, it toppled over and took all the lower portion with it. At 3.28 o'clock its seven tons of steel came down with a crash that was heard a long way off. In its fall it cut the numerous telegraph and telephone wires along Boston avenue and the railroad, its wreckage reaching down the deep cut and onto the steam railway tracks. An inward express train, at a forty-five [p. 76] mile speed, was stopped by its engineer in the nick of time, but not without contact with the wreck, which was pushed some distance ere full stop was made. But for the fact of his train being a little late, a great disaster might have occurred, for had the falling mass struck the cars, it would have been a giant scythe, mowing down the passengers within. The 5/8–inch guy rods of the wrecked tower became entangled with the high-tension wires and the cables of the street railway and more or less charged with electricity, but fortunately no one was seriously injured. The police, firemen and railroad men were soon on the ground, and enough of the wreck removed to allow resumption of travel. An immense concourse of people soon gathered at the scene, and the wonder is that no resultant accident occurred.

At the present writing (a month later) the tower has been rebuilt in the same form of construction and at a greater height, is now complete, and is visible in all directions. Seen at a distance, the four steel bars at its corners, with the cross-bars and braces, become merged into one black line against the sky. It is said to be exceeded in height and power by but two radio stations in the country, and capable of communicating with Europe. It is the idea of a recent Tufts graduate, Harold J. Power, who is vice-president of the company who caused its erection.

We naturally associate electricity with light, heat and power (no pun is intended by this last word), but we can scarcely think that the late Mr. Charles Tufts, who suggested the college that should ‘put a light on that bleak hill,’ had any thought of electric light, heat, or the subtle energy utilized by the present lofty structure.

Since his time the city of Charlestown, in 1862, constructed a reservoir that for some years was regarded with some apprehension. Fear of flood has at length departed, and Medford and Somerville people have made homes in the shadow of its embankments.

The daily papers reported that during the reconstruction of the wireless tower one of the workmen, in his hurry for dinner, slid down three hundred feet of rope [p. 77] faster than he expected, but checked by extreme effort his increasing momentum when but fifty feet from the ground. What might have happened, had he been unable to do so, we dislike to consider.

We may hope that the new tower is made secure from a recurrence of its early disaster, and trust that residents close by, and the multitudes that pass and repass daily by steam and trolley, may ever do so securely. The forces of nature, often freakish, are serious ones to be reckoned with. Safety first should be the rule of the engineer, and the lesson of Minot's Light should not be forgotten.

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