“Pole Farm” History – 1929 – 1975

The “Pole Farm” at Mercer Meadows got its name from the thousands of tall radio antenna poles that were installed on the site to provide telephone service across the Atlantic to Europe and to South America. The over 800-acre site, then known as AT&T’s Lawrenceville Transmitting Center, operated from 1929 until 1975.

Thanks to several contributors, the History Project site now has several pamphlets on the history and operation of the Lawrenceville Transmitting Center, and associated historical photos of the site and operation.

Aerial view of Lawrenceville (Pole Farm) transmission site, Fairchild Aerial Surveys, 1930
Antennas for South American circuits at Lawrenceville, 1930

For more information:

== View all the Pole Farm images in the Image Gallery ==

== View all the Pole Farm documents in the Pamphlet Collection ==

Lawrenceville Transmitting Center

Lawrenceville (Pole Farm) closing brochure – Antennas and building, 1975

The Lawrenceville Transmitting Center had two buildings when it opened in 1929, each housing two 60 KW transmitters. Outside stood arrays of vertical antennas that were hung on steel towers 180 feet high, one directed toward England and one toward South America.

The 1930 prices for long-distance telephone calls over this system ranged from $30 for a three-minute call to London, $36 to Madrid, Vienna, or Buenos Aires, and $39 to Santiago.

In November 1930, AT&T also demonstrated the first ship to shore transmission of a radio program by broadcasting the on-board night club entertainment from the S. S. Leviathan over the NBC Network.

During the war years, 1940 – 1945, Lawrenceville provided important circuits for the armed forces and trained many of their personnel.

The Lawrenceville center continued to be updated with new technology as the demand for overseas telephone service continued to grow, which also lead to the development of undersea transatlantic cables in the 1950s. By 1965, Lawrenceville was the largest and most modern radiotelephone station in the world. But the advent of satellite service lead to the closing of the Lawrenceville site at the end of 1975.

Main Building at Lawrenceville, housing two of the transmitters, 1930
High power transmitters at Lawrenceville, 1949

Mercer County acquired the property from AT&T in 1998, and it is now part of Mercer Meadows Park, which spans Hopewell Township and Lawrence Township southeast of Pennington. A single antenna still stands at the Reed / Bryan Farm entrance.  Along the paths, several historical areas also are marked with interpretative signage.

== View all the Pole Farm documents in the Pamphlet Collection ==

  • 1928 – AT&T Lawrenceville, N. J., Plot Plan
    – Map of properties and owners purchased by AT&T in Lawrenceville
  • 1930 – AT&T “Voiceways Overseas from Lawrenceville”
    – Promotional pamphlet on the history and availability of transatlantic short wave telephony
  • 1949 – AT&T Overseas Radiotelephone Service – Technical Operation
    – Technical overview of operations and transmitter station
  • 1975 – AT&T Lawrenceville Radio Station – Closing -1929-1975
    – Summary of the site’s history and personnel

== View all the Pole Farm images in the Image Gallery ==

Thanks to Thomas Ebeling for discovering the Voiceways Pole Farm pamphlet, Jerry Berg of OnTheShortWaves for sharing the Pole Farm pamphlet and photos, and Dennis Waters for sharing Pole Farm pamphlets and property map.

We welcome additional information and photos like these to share the history of the Pole Farm and other local sites.

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