Crescent Junction Wireless Deserts Brendel, Relocating Fourteen Miles Closer to Moab
Several times each year, I drive the thirty-one miles south on U.S. Highway 191 from Crescent Junction to Moab, Utah. Other than the industrial-sized natural gas drilling rig hiding off to the left, the first half of the drive features an unremarkable desert environment. About four miles north of Canyonlands Field there is finally something interesting to look at. To the southwest, atop a bluff is a lattice-steel communications tower. With its heavy structure, the tower looks more like an old-energy oilrig than a communications tower. By its shape and size, the tower appears designed to support heavy loads and to withstand high winds.
During my April 2012 transit to Moab, I decided to investigate what purpose this unusual tower might serve. Since the tower access road intersects with Highway 191 on a straight stretch of four-lane road, I planned early for my exit. Speeding and tailgating are common along this stretch of highway, so I slowed and waited patiently for traffic to clear. As I approached the intersection, I braked hard. In a cloud of desert dust, my truck and travel trailer soon came to rest in a run-off area just beyond the intersection.
Although I had hoped to take the access road up to the top of the bluff, not far from the highway I encountered a locked gate. Not wanting to trespass into a secure location, I took the time to read the only available informational sign. From that mandated steel sign, I soon had enough information to research what I call the Moab Tower.
Owned by American Tower (NYSE: AMT), the site name for the structure is “Crescent Junction”. The real Crescent Junction is almost fourteen miles north of the site. With over 47,000 owned or managed tower sites around the world, the Crescent Junction tower is one AMT’s wireless network colocation towers. With its one hundred eighty-five foot height, I could imagine the tower having a clear line of sight to another AMT tower at Green River, Utah. Looking southeast toward Moab, I could not determine if another energy tower above Moab might facilitate communications there. As it turns out, the tower was once part of the AT&T microwave tower network.
After my ten-minute visit to the “Moab Tower”, I decided to get back on the road. As I returned to my rig, I noticed that the stop sign at the highway intersection had torn loose from its mounts. There it hung head down, with a view of the Klondike Bluffs in the background. After waiting for traffic to clear, another cloud of dust followed me as I swung back on the highway to Moab.