Towering above the Metroplex
Cedar Hill made history in the 1950s when it became home to what was then known as Hill Tower. At 880 feet above sea level, Cedar Hill’s elevation made it the most desirable location for installation of the broadcast antennas. Hill Tower is the most unique structure ever designed for television transmission from both an engineering standpoint and for the fact that it was the first single tower owned and operated by two television stations at the same time.
During this time, then CBS affiliate, KRLD-TV, and ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, were the leading television stations of Dallas. Both stations were in competition for the same location, thus the idea of Hill Tower was born. The tower would reach over 1,500 feet into the sky and be topped with an 80-foot triangular platform consisting of two antennas, one for each station. Dubbed 'the candelabra', both antennas were of equal height and equal centers of radiation. Buiilding a structure of this kind and magnitude had never before been attempted, making completion of this mammoth task a tribute to engineering genius.
With its red blinking lights and high elevation, the towers have become a prominent landmark for travelers, making it easily visible from 20 miles away on a clear night. It also serves as a significant navigational landmark for aircraft pilots who use the towers as a guide.
A structure of this nature was sure to attract attention, some good, some bad, and there have been incidents of note surrounding the towers over the years.
In January 1987, a Marine F-4S Phantom jet crashed into one of the supporting cables, causing the tower to lean toward Belt Line Road. Fortunately the two pilots ejected safely. Till that time, Hill Tower had not experienced any major problems, and with minimal damage to the tower, it was an easy fix.
Then in October 1996, one of the towers collapsed during a maintenance routine. Three workers were killed, and local television and radio transmissions were knocked out for hours. Hundreds of people gathered in downtown for Country Day witnessed the tower fall. Despite the devastation caused by the collapse, Hill Tower was rebuilt and remains today as a trademark of our community.
On a clear Sunday evening in August 2000, Dr Jannay Valdez of DeSoto sited a UFO from FM 1382 near the television tower in Cedar Hill, speeding through the sky west toward Granbury. Then police Chief, Steve Rhodes, said there had been no other UFO sighting reported that night or any other night in his five years as chief. Undeterred, and ignoring skepticism, Dr. Valdez reported the incident to the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico.
Since the construction of Hill Tower, many other local television and radio stations have located here, and more recently, mobile communications technology service providers. Today, Cedar Hill has the highest concentration of radio and television communication antennas in the county with 14 towers reaching several thousand feet into the Texas sky.