» Portland Radio

The Council Crest Tower That NEVER Broadcast

(22 posts)
  • Started 6 years ago by Craig_Adams
  • Latest reply from semoochie

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  1. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    This interesting bit of Portland history was brought to my attention by Michael Long. A 725 foot tower was erected in 1928 on Council Crest. It was billed as the World's Largest Electric Sign and could be seen for over 100 miles. The tower was constructed with 122 foot long fir tree poles, weighing 5 1/2 tons a piece. The tower, constructed by Richfield Oil Co. was an Aviation Beacon but also a giant advertisement for the oil company with its name RICHFIELD spelled out in NEON. KGW carried the 15 minute dedication on the night of September 29, 1928. To read more about this long forgotten structure and others, Michael Long found these links:

    Council Crest & Other Oregon Richfield Beacons

    Richfield Beacon Ad & Pictures of Some of The Beacon Towers

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 04:19 AM #
  2. RadioBuggie

    Good reading - Thanks Craig!

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 07:42 AM #
  3. msndrspdx

    In the 1920's, lighting spelling out the word CITROEN used to be hung on the side of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The advertising display was removed just before World War II broke out and was never re-erected.

    A set of TV and radio transmitters have been atop the Eiffel Tower for many years.

    If memory serves, KTLA has had a neon Ch. 5 logo on the side of their tower in Los Angeles for many years as well.

    Best, Mike 8)

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 07:44 AM #
  4. Boss_Radio_1550

    That sign would have been real cool to see. Imagine the RFI that the sign would have generated :) AM radio reception probably was real lousy nearby!

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 08:09 AM #
  5. QPatrickEdwards

    Rumour has it that one of those old Richfield towers ended up at the old KLOO-AM site (near Avery Park, just off US20/OR34) in Corvallis and was used until just a few years ago.

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 05:54 PM #
  6. jr_tech

    Ok, I'm confused... Craig says:
    "A 725 foot tower was erected in 1928 on Council Crest"
    Which I assumed meant a 725 foot *tall* tower, made out of wood. 8O

    But one sentence in the article linked says:
    "Each letter is 60 feet high, while the entire sign is more than 725 feet long"
    Does "long" mean height or width?

    Then the article says later:
    "the whole spelling the word 'Richfield' in letters 60 feet high and 725 feet wide"

    So was it really just a stubby "billboard" (less than the 122 foot length of the timbers high) and 725 feet wide, rather than a "tower"?

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 06:45 PM #
  7. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    That's a good question!

    It also says "beacon tower" here in the 1937 mention:

    "The city council yesterday approved an appropriation of $3375 to provide rest rooms in the beacon tower on the crest and connections with existing sewers on the property." (The Oregonian)

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 07:14 PM #
  8. Alfredo_T

    Is it possible to build a 725 foot self-supporting tower out of wood? The "Lighting Up The Coast" article and its pictures suggests that all of the Richfield signs were towers because they were intended to be reminiscent of oil derricks.

    Looking through the articles (I haven't had time to read them in their entirety yet), it occurred to me that pioneers like Richfield are behind the concept of motels. I remember asking myself as a child, "what is the difference between a hotel and a motel?" If someone were to ask me the same question today, I would say that a motel is a type of hotel designed to appeal to car travelers and truckers by virtue of it being located near a major highway.

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 07:39 PM #
  9. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    Joel Miller has just sent me a drawing of the Council Crest Richfield sign which was an ad in "The Oregonian." Turns out there was no tower built after all, just a very large sign, but this sign was so large it was still too large to be unlit. Talk about an oil company with no regard for life! After the money ran out in the depression, Richfield turned off the beacons! So you have these large structures, like the one on Council Crest, piercing into the darkness with no lights on at all!

    This from "The Oregonian" front page from January 14, 1932:

    PILOT FORCED DOWN ON COUNCIL CREST - Frank Kammer Hurt And Plane Wrecked - Broken Water Line Causes Ship To Land Near Big Sign; Death Narrowly Escaped.

    Frank Kammer, veteran aviator of Wenatchee, Wash., narrowly escaped death or serious injury when a two passenger biplane he was flying was wrecked in a forced landing on Council Crest near the Richfield Oil Company sign last night. Kammer suffered head and body bruises and was taken to the Portland Hotel.

    The pilot told police he made the landing after a broken water line caused his motor to steam. Fearing that he would be unable to reach the Swan Island Airport, Kammer set the ship down on a high ridge, narrowly missing the unlighted oil sign as he descended. Two boys Brooks Howarth, 1037 Hillsdale, and Billy Milan, who were skiing in the vicinity, saw the plane land and summoned J.P. Howarth, who took Krammer to the hotel.

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 08:01 PM #
  10. jr_tech

    "Is it possible to build a 725 foot self-supporting tower out of wood?"

    From what I have been able to find, this 387 foot radio tower is the tallest wooden structure that might be similar to a "beacon" tower design:

    Cool looking! :

    A 725 foot wooden tower seems unlikely.

    Posted on May 30, 2013 - 09:30 PM #