So, until today, I thought West Virginia only had two coordinated systems of non-fire emergency warning sirens, the Kanawha Valley chemical sirens and the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant sirens.
I've known for a while that one of the two (EDIT: turns out there's at least 3) Thunderbolts in West Virginia is on a parking garage in Clarksburg, and when I was reminded of it recently, I wondered if I could possibly uncover some other sirens if I snooped around Clarksburg a little more. Three hours later, I had found SEVEN more Federal Signal sirens, all 2T22s and Model 5/7s, pole-mounted in various neighborhoods all over the city! (Here they are on my siren map.
I tried doing some Googling but couldn't find any information about these sirens. I couldn't even find any pages that mention the Thunderbolt on the Hewes Avenue garage. However, it's fairly obvious that they are not fire sirens because they are mounted along residential streets instead of at emergency services facilities, and they are not related to a facility that handles hazardous materials because they are very specifically located within Clarksburg city instead of any kind of such facility. With those possibilities crossed off, and based on the age and models of the sirens, the only other purpose I can infer is that it was a Cold War air raid warning system.
Out of curiosity, I tried doing some similar snooping around nearby Bridgeport, in case it was in fact a Harrison County system. No cigar. I haven't been able to find any sirens within Bridgeport at all yet.
As if that wasn't totally-out-of-left-field enough, here's the other oddball discovery I made today. While my Googling didn't turn up anything about a Clarksburg or Harrison County system, I did find out that Monongalia County has a Whelen Vortex warning siren right next to the Cheat Lake exit (10) on I-68 (see it in Street View
). A few identical news articles I found call it an "evacuation siren" but don't say exactly what
event is being anticipated (note that it's on the opposite side of the lake from the dam). Apparently it's expected to actively go off in emergencies but it doesn't have a regular test schedule - in fact, the first time it was activated after its installation was FIVE
years later when it failed to activate during a traffic accident involving HAZMATs and they finally tested it, successfully, once. It beats me how they could just install a siren, let it sit for five years, and then go "Oops, we were supposed to activate it!" when something actually happens. The whole thing is bizarre. Anyway, wondering if it may be part of a county-wide system of some sort, I did some more snooping around Morgantown but couldn't turn up anything else. (Morgantown does have a large cluster of STL-10 fire sirens though if you find those interesting.)
So here's where I'm opening it up to anyone else with knowledge about Central and Northern West Virginia. Any further information about Clarksburg's system, any sirens around Bridgeport, and/or what the deal is with the Cheat Lake Vortex will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for reading and for any info you have.
EDIT: Hehe, not long after posting this, I found a siren in Bridgeport, a Sentry 10V at the airport
University student and semi-professional architecture historian in the Harpers Ferry, West Virginia area.
West Virginia State-wide & Western Maryland Siren Map