Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Worlds Largest Wooded Radio Tower

The radio tower located in Gliwice, Poland (pronounced Glee Veet Say) is believed to be the tallest wooden structure in the world at 387 feet.  Constructed in 1935 by the German company Lorenz,  with help from Siemens, Telefunken, and others, it went into service on December 23, 1935 to replace a smaller transmitter located on Raudener Street in Gliwice.

The tower is a masterpiece of wood engineering,  constructed with impregnated Larch wood with a fascinating lattice structure of  beams. All connections were made with bolts made of ore,  because bolts of iron would have absorbed the transmitter signals. The larch wood was chosen for it's resistance to vermin and atmospheric conditions.   There is not a single iron nail in the tower.

Most radio towers built in Germany before 1945 were built of wood and the Gliwice tower is the only still standing.  The rest  were demolished between 1945 and 1983.  Today the tower supports multiple transmission antennas for mobile phone services and a low power FM transmitter.

The tower is diligently maintained, preserved and repaired every year. To reach the top, workers must climb a ladder with 365 steps.   Scientists from the Silesian University of Technology expect the tower to last another 20 years. The tower looks especially attractive after dusk, illuminated with eight massive spotlights and is visible for many miles  creating a lasting impression with visitors.

On August 31, 1939, the Germans staged a fake "Polish" attack on the station which was later used as justification for the Invasion of Poland.  During the cold war the Gliwice tower was used for jamming western medium wave transmitters broadcasting in Polish.

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