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Strange Structure in the Distance

The trip from my hometown to my late grandparents farm is a 20 minute drive on a country, two-lane road, past farm land, woods, and single or small groups of houses. My grandparents died many years ago, but now my dad and his wife live out in that area of the county (though not on the old farm, which is still in the family).

Their house is in a new subdivision, in the middle of nowhere, building up in what used to be farm land and sand pits. It’s a really nice looking area, and all the homes are twice as big as what you could get for that money in my current town. So I still get to drive out on that old country road when I visit my dad.

There’s a strange structure you can see off in the distance at one point along the route. It’s a landmark that has intrigued me for 40 years. I’ve always thought it looked like a white Mercury space capsule sitting on top of a squat building.

For 40 years I’ve only seen it in the distance — about a mile away off the road we travel. My dad had long ago told me it had something to do with the nearby regional airport — a weather station or something. But it’s real purpose never figured in my imaginings about it. It was always an enigma in the middle of the farm land.

A few months ago I finally decided to actually go to it, see it up close. There’s another road that leaves the one that goes to the farm, and my dad told me that it goes right by that structure. On our way out to visit my dad, I took the family on that detour to view this strange structure that has given me wonder for all my life.

It’s no less strange or intriguing when seen up close. It looks pretty much exactly as it does from a distance. Only the T-shaped things around the roof can’t be seen from the main road. It still looks like a Mercury space capsule on a squat building.

As curious as I was (for 40 years), I was sort of afraid that seeing this thing up close would spoil my imaginings about it. But seeing doesn’t spoil anything. I’m actually even more curious about it — what’s inside? In my mind’s eye, I picture old computers with tape reels and banks of flashing lights.

Maybe in another 40 years I’ll find a way to see the inside. Until then, I’ll keep loving how it makes me wonder.


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6 Responses to Strange Structure in the Distance

  1. brogrit says:

    i was told it had something to do with research for the farms around it. i can’t remember who told me that, but…it is pretty interesting….

  2. cowgrit says:

    Wasn’t there a warning sign? no trespassing?

  3. brogrit says:

    i think so, it always has been a mystery

  4. RRedman64 says:

    After a (very) brief web search, I think this is a VHF Omnidirectional Antenna, used by aircraft when flying by instruments. Of course, I’m going on your dad’s recollection that it has something to do with the regional airport. I’m sure you know you could just call the airport and ask the public affairs office.

    But that would spoil the mystery, right?

  5. Bullgrit says:

    Thanks RRedman64, but knowing the facts for certain would reduce this strange thing to mundanity.

  6. RRedman64 says:

    You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar, with a true appreciation for the finer points of good ol’ Southern storytelling.

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