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At approximately 4 PM Thursday afternoon, telephone service was restored to Oregon Caves after a nearly 7 month interruption caused by the theft of over one mile of telephone cable in November 2007. The park’s main telephone number 541-592-2100 is now active on a limited basis, as is the phone number for the Chateau at 541-592-3400.
“This has been a long time coming” stated Superintendent Vicki Snitzler. “It has been difficult for visitors, the National Park Service, the Natural History Association and Oregon Caves Outfitters, who manage the lodging at the Chateau along with food service and the gift shop.”
The primary reason it took so long was due to the lack of access to the sites needed to install a new type of system during the snow covered winter months. Since this was the second time cable had been stolen in the last 3 years, replacement of the stolen cable a second time didn’t seem to be a good option. A new microwave system was chosen as the best alternative using mountain tops with direct line of sight from Cave Junction to Eight Dollar Mountain to the park. Even helicopter access was considered to reach these locations, during the preceding month, but a lack of landing sites, digging through snow and installing antenna mounting poles and hardware would have been difficult, expensive and would have carried more risk for installers and park maintenance staff.
Installation of the new system brought assistance from many people. Oregon Caves Maintenance staff completed all the site preparation work that could be done ahead of time. Then on Monday, a seven person National Park Service telecommunication team arrived and got right to work. Oregon Caves Maintenance staff, SIS-Q communications, Frontier Telephone, C-2 Utilities, and the US Forest Service all contributed to the effort and in many cases shifted their priorities and worked extra hours to make this happen.
The result is a new system that carries carry both voice and high speed data by microwave – and will be less expensive to operate on a monthly basis than the old system, saving taxpayer money and at the same time improving service.
For additional information contact Steve Thede (by telephone!) at 541-572-2100 ext 225.