The DEW Line and Other Military Projects
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The DEW Line and Other Military Projects

The DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line Project was just one of many Bell System's involvements in the USA's defense systems. On this page you will find some brief information on the DEW Line Project and a gallery of photos sent to this website by Ollie Ekstedt.

First, a magazine advertisement by the Bell System, during the time the project was just beginning, stated:

"New Radar Warning Line will scan Arctic skies 

Distant Early Warning Line for defense now being built by Bell Telephone System

Far up in the frozen north – clear across the top of North America – there’s a new air-raid warning line under construction.

It is being built by Bell System research, manufacturing and operating specialists at the request of the United States and Canadian governments.

It is a vital and challenging task.  Much of the electronic equipment has had to be specially developed.  All of the equipment, materials, food, fuel and personnel have to be transported thousands of miles by land, sea and air to the trackless wastes of the Arctic.  Years of work are being crammed into months of time.

The design and development of equipment for the warning line is the work of Bell Telephone Laboratories, the Lincoln Laboratory at M.I.T. and Canadian scientists.

Western Electric, the Bell System’s manufacturing and supply unit, did the planning, engineering and construction of a preliminary pilot project.  It is now doing the same over-all job of the new extended line from Alaska across northern Canada, in close co-operation with defense forces and other governmental departments.

The Bell System’s ability to meet emergencies of this kind when called upon by the Government is made possible by its research, manufacturing and operation units working together as a team.

The DEW line is one of many projects in which this teamwork is helping in defense."

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Ollie Ekstedt's contributions to this web page:



Click on envelope icon below to open envelope and read the contents:

Kappel Letter


35mm Slide photos taken in 1956 by Ollie:
(Click on thumbnail photos to view full-size)

Additional information and movies on the DEW Line and other similar projects can be found on these websites:

For an excellent Western Electric movie on this project, see the following two links for the two-part movie to download:

Here are some websites on the DEW Line: - Albert LaFrance's website on the history of AT&T Long Lines; more precisely, "The Microwave Radio and Coaxial Cable Networks of the Bell System".  His site has additional information on the Bell System involvement in our nations security with "nuke-proof" communications systems. - Larry Wilson is the webmaster of this excellent site called "The DEW LINE Sites in Canada, Alaska & Greenland" and even includes a listing with contact information of numerous people involved in the project.  The "Dew Line Doo-Doo"  webpage exposes the bad deal the Canadians got stuck with in cleaning up the remnants of the DEW Line project  in Canada.

AT&T to run Cold War-era military network for five more years  In 1964, AT&T introduced the PicturePhone at the New York World's Fair and the Defense Communications Agency managed global communications for the Defense Department based primarily on voice and teletype circuits.

AT&T runs Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Alerting Network (CJCSAN) out of its highly secure Special Government Operations Center in Waldorf, Md., and another network hub in Raleigh, N.C.

Other government military projects that the Bell System were involved in are described in the following letter sent to the Lucent archives by Robert F. Marfina, a Lucent retiree who spent most of his career with Western Electric. Click on his old business card below to read his letter:



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