Sunday, December 11, 2005

World's Tallest Structure and My Adventure Thereupon

One time, I was driving across country, and I found myself in eastern North Dakota. I saw on my trust Rand McNally Map of North Dakota that nearby was the world’s tallest man-made structure. I made as much of a beeline towards the area, and noticed as I was getting closer that there are two tall towers, about 20 miles apart. Well, it was getting late, and as faithful readers of this blog know, I don’t like driving in the dark, so I chose the one which looked a little taller. I careened through county roads, and farm roads and finally onto a gravel road that lead to the tower. I got right to the base of the tower where, cattycorner to it is a clapboard church surrounded by a field of alfalfa and squash. Outside of the church was an old man fiddling with some squash so I jumped out of my car and ran up to him.

“Hey mister, is this the tallest tower in the world?”

The grizzled North Dakota church caretaker stood, looked up at the tower and said “Nope. That one over there is about 3 feet taller.”

I thought to myself, “Screw it, 3 feet is close enough” and I had the old man take my picture. He did not manage to get any of the tower in the picture, so all the picture is, is Ken standing in the North Dakota squash field. Not a very compelling visual.

An interesting historical note, the tower I was standing under was once brought down 16 February 1968 when a Marine helicopter piloted by Major Karl Vernon Albert, USMC, flew into and severed the guide wires. All four Marines aboard were killed. The helicopter, a CH-53A assigned to Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland, was on a routine training flight performing cold weather tests. Major Albert is buried at Arlington and I intend to go see him one of these days.