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ICE Station Otto

ICE Station Otto is one name for a 3ac parcel north of Moriarty, NM. Formerly part of the Otto CAA airfield, ICE Station Otto had been the Otto FSS radio site likely from the field's construction in the late '30s until 1962. At some point after this the land, minus the airstrip, was purchased by Albuquerque-based Val-Comm which operated it as some type of radio site on contract to Sandia National Laboratories. The nature of Val-Comm's work at the site is unknown besides some speculation. During this time period the original FSS radio building was retained and a great deal of HF equipment was added to the site, along with two elevated wooden antenna platforms.

After the period of use by Val-Comm, the property was purchased by an amateur radio operator with the intent to use it as a radio site. For whatever reason he never got very far on this project, and passed away several years ago. His widow is now looking to sell the property, and I am considering combining resources with other interested people to purchase it. If you are at all interested, please shoot me an email (jesse@jbcrawford.us) or contact me another way.

I am weighing the idea of gathering a few people together to form a corporation, something like the Otto Radio Association, and purchase the property with a goal of doing restoration work on the building to preserve its historical character, but also to use the site as an amateur radio and HF receiving site. The plan would be something like this:

  • In exchange for financial contribution and participation in work days, grant members access to the building and use of antennas and equipment owned by the association.
  • For free to members and modest fees to others, make space in the building and on towers available for radio equipment to be remote-controlled over the internet.
  • If feasible, get a WebSDR or other public interest receiver running on one or more of the big TCI antennas.
  • Operate occasional “open houses” to invite the radio and aviation communities to this interesting and historic site.

The immediate concern would be raising funds to purchase the property. Out of respect for the seller I don't wish to put information about the prices they are asking and offers I am considering right on the internet. I would likely be looking for people willing to contribute in the range of $10k-20k to the purchase effort, though, and there is a possibility of arranging some type of owner carry or other financing to spread this out over time. Something like a crowdfunding campaign to solicit a large number of smaller donations is definitely a possibility, but I wouldn't want to go down that route until there is a pretty solid plan and ideally a final price has been negotiated.

Next we would be looking for people who can contribute labor and equipment. The building is basically okay and keeps out the weather but should be repainted and have some other work done to improve the durability and security of the site.

There will also be a need for ongoing donations, perhaps in the form of membership dues, for maintenance and other expenses. The amounts here would probably not be very large.

  • One building, approx. 18 by 50 feet, consisting of two main rooms with a small connecting hallway with utility room and bathroom.
    • Building is thought to date back to the 1930s or 1940s.
    • Building seems basically sound but definitely needs some work including new paint.
    • The roof is a relatively new metal roof, it was installed post 1999 but the exact year is unknown. Current owner says there are no leaks.
    • 60A electrical service which is currently functioning, although the equipment is antiquated. Electrical service is set up in the mobile home style with a pole-mounted disconnect and underground run to the building.
    • No working heating, old propane heaters are fitted. Minimally working split unit A/C installed probably in the '70s-'90s.
    • Well and septic field. Well is no longer reliable due to receding water table and condition of septic is unknown.
  • A great deal of old radio equipment. From a very quick visual inventory, it consists primarily or '40s-'50s era HF equipment (probably from the flight service station) with a smaller amount of newer equipment, perhaps '80s. Some 19“ and older relay racks. Nothing that appears to be in currently working order.
  • Two triangular wooden platforms, about 15' feet to a side, elevated perhaps 25' in the air and accessible by ladder. Platforms seem in acceptable condition, decking is relatively new synthetic type but structural timber is clearly older.
  • One large TCI directional antenna on rotator, connected to building by suspended lines. Possibly TCI model 521.
  • One large TCI omnidirectional HF antenna of some kind, possibly TCI model 530. Connected to building by buried conduit.
  • One TCI model 625 loop antenna. Connected to building by buried conduit.
  • One guyed crank-up tower, with nothing on it.
  • At least one additional crank-up tower, possibly two, and various Rohn sections and other tower hardware lying on the ground.
  • One trailer sans axle, looks military type, set next to building and used for storage.
  • Property is fenced in barbed wire with front gate.
  • notes/otto.1628217820.txt.gz
  • Last modified: 2021/08/06 02:43
  • by jesse