The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 posts, one for each letter of the English alphabet, in April. Most of us choose to make these posts on a particular theme. My theme for 2022 is Codebreaking in World War II, which fits with the topic of the novel that I’m writing. Visit every day (except Sunday) in April for a new post on my topic.
V is for Vint Hill Farms
Today, the drive from Arlington Hall to Vint Hill Farms takes about an hour. I imagine that it took quite a bit longer before I-66 was built in 1956. During World War II, the two locations were connected by the work of radio signal interception at Vint Hill Farms followed by deciphering and translating of those signal messages at Arlington Hall.
According to Road Unraveled (Vint Hill Farms Station: Cold War History in Washington, DC’s Backyard), this is how Vint Hill went from farmland to intercept station:
While conducting their work, farmers working at Vint Hill noticed that they were intercepting messages in German on their radios. After alerting the US Army, Vint Hill’s greatest secret was discovered: the land sits on an extremely rare geological formation that serves as a long-range antenna, and the messages coming through the radio waves were direct from Berlin! By June 1942 the Army purchased Vint Hill from Harrison and the country’s newest listening post—named Monitoring Station No. 1—was born.
The site also proved to be a convenient location for training new cryptanalysts, usually ones that were being sent overseas.
Vint Hill Farms Station is where the messages were intercepted from Ambassador Ōshima that described the western defenses of Germany, invaluable information to the planners of D-Day.
Vint Hill Farms Station continued as an active Army base through the Cold War. Most of its activity after World War II has yet to be declassified. Vint Hill Farms Station was decommissioned in 1997 and, since then, has been undergoing redevelopment.
One project is to convert old Army barracks to new upscale apartments lofts. The Vint Hill Lofts have yet to open, but they have a nice website, including a history page (History | Vint Hill Lofts ) which is where I borrowed the photo of the radio interceptor.