The 107 Abandoned Microwave Towers That Once Carried the First Cross-Country Telephone Call

Ryan Socash of It’s History explores the fascinating history of the AT&T Microwave Radio-Relay Skyway, one of the earliest wireless communication networks in the United States. The 107 microwave towers of the Skyway, which sit in Topanga Ridge near Santa Monica, California, used radio signals rather than wire to transmit cross-country calls. In fact, the first cross-country telephone call was made using these relays.

America’s first wireless communication network, known as the Microwave Radio Skyway, launched in the 1950s and transformed our ability to communicate long-distance.

While this was a revolutionary and very expensive piece of equipment in its prime, the Skyway has sat abandoned in the wake of fiber optic cables and other advanced technologies.

Over half a century later, however, technology has advanced to the point that vast amounts of old infrastructure, including hundreds of towers, have simply been abandoned.

ATT Microwave Skyway Network
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.