Bike Race through Oberursel on 1 May 2018

The bike race ‘Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt’ came through Oberursel on Tuesday, 1 May, 2018. Therefore, a number of roads were closed, while buses and U-Bahn had no service between 8:30am – 2:30pm.

We walked to have lunch at my favorite Korean Restaurant ‘Seoul’, and ended up seeing the race on the way back at Hohemarkstrasse. I had not watched it for a number of years, so I was surprised to see them now heading the other way – towards the Feldberg Mountain.

A bystander informed me they had decided to change the route, and he thought this one was better as they are not coming down from the Feldberg at high speed anymore. They used to race by in a flash, but not so anymore.

There is a difference of almost 800 meters between the starting point, Frankfurt (elevation: 88 meters) and the Feldberg Mountain (elevation: 880 meters).

The most infamous bike race was the one in 2015, which was cancelled due to a planned terror attack. More here from CNN: German police thwart Boston-style plot to bomb cycle race, source says

U.S. Air Force Radio Relay Site near Camp King in Oberursel, Germany

This afternoon, we drove for about 20 minuten to the Kolbenberg Mountain, which is part of the Taunus Mountain region and the Taunus Nature Park. It borders the towns of Oberursel to the southeast, Schmitten to the northwest, and Bad Homburg to the southeast.

Radio Relay Site Kolbenberg, Germany

The Kolbenberg is about 690m in height, compared to the Feldberg with 890m.

The reason for this trip was one of my blog readers, who had the following question: Could you tell me the name of the of the small U.S. Air Force station above Camp King. We would go up there to their enlisted club to watch the American (military) TV channel that we didn’t have on Camp King. I remember a few soldiers talking about using the Air Force station to call home using their radio system.

On the summit of the Kolbenberg, there is a large telecommunication system with a visible lattice mast, which was used  by the U.S. Air Force until 2007. Since the withdrawal of the U.S. military, the mast has been used by civilian radio services, including mobile radio.

Barbwire around the Kolbenberg Radio Relay Site

Far into the 1950s, there was also a ground radar station for the MGM-1 Matador (Matador Missile), which was a radio-controlled cruise missile stationed in West Germany during the Cold War. In the event of a launch, the missile was remote-controlled by ground-mounted radar stations, such as the one on the Kolbenberg.

The plant was rebuilt and expanded over the years. In 1962, the lattice mast was finished. At first it was painted red and white. The lattice mast is about 100 m high and can be seen clearly from far away. Since that time, the system was only used as a radio relay site. At peak times, 20 to 25 antennas were mounted on the lattice mast, often called “dishes” by the American soldiers because they looked like soup bowls.

From the station, signals were sent northwards to Obernkirchen / Schwarzenborn, east to the Wasserkuppe and southeast to Breitsol / Geiersberg. To the southwest, signals were sent to Wiesbaden, to the north-east in the direction of Stein. Those for Rhine-Main Airbase and Darmstadt were sent to the south. Towards the west, Donnersberg was signalled.

The plant was officially called the “Feldberg Radio Relay Site”. This often caused confusion because there was also a broadcasting system in the Black Forest on the Feldberg. In the local vernacular, the station is also called “Sandplacken” or “Kolbenberg”.

In the 1960s, a part of today’s existing station was enclosed by a simple wood fence. At that time about 20 employees of the U.S. Air Force were stationed there. Most of them worked in the “Telephone Switching Center”. In 1969, up to 150 personnel were on the ground, among them communication personnel, four cooks in the canteen, as well as five in the administrative section. The personnel lived in specially built barracks directly on the premises. At the beginning of the 1970s, soldiers set up a small club with a mini-cinema on the ground floor of the barracks. At the same time, the wooden fence was replaced by a wire one.

Guard-house at the Kolbenberg Site, Germany

In the mid-1980s, terrorist threat in Germany from groups like the Red Army Faction (RAF) rose sharply. As the largest radio relay site in Europe was located on the Kolbenberg, a wall about 5 m high was built around the station. The barrier did not allow any view into the station’s interior, and the access through the walls were built so that in the event of a breakthrough with vehicles, the station could not be damaged. At this time, the barracks on the site had to be given up, probably because of space limitations. The soldiers then resided at Camp King in Oberursel.

Kolbenberg

The last employee of the U.S. Air Force left the station in 1993. From then on, it ran self-sufficiently and was remote-controlled by the Rhein-Main Airbase. Maintenance work and monitoring took place at regular intervals. On the Kolbenberg, there were never any underground facilities or bunkers. This was often claimed because of a translation error on a site map published on different pages and forums in the Internet. Only the water tank was covered with grass.

Since 2007, a telecommunications service company has rented parts of the plant and installed antennas on the grating mast, connected to a separate cable line. Various cable thieves and vandals have already discovered the premises and left visible traces. The current owner is unknown.

The US soldiers stationed on Kolbenberg (at times, up to 150 soldiers) were popular among the locals. They also gave their technical support  in the construction of a number of facilities in the neighboring towns. For example, they helped build the bobsleigh track in Oberreifenberg, the Schutzhütte (mountain hut) called Kittelhütte (same name as the mountain pass), and the sports field in Niederreifenberg.

After the withdrawal of the U.S. troops, a memorial stone with a copper plate was erected about 200 meters west of the Kastell Old Hunting House near the Sandplacken mountain pass, with which the US soldiers express their gratitude.

The memorial plaque was stolen in August 2011. Thanks to the sponsoring by a local company, a new one was added in March 2012.

The memorial reads:

From all of the American military personnel who were stationed on this mountain top since World War II, we would like to express our gratitude to the citizens of the surrounding communities who so openly accepted us and made our stay in Germany so memorable and enjoyable. Thank you.

Oberursel near the Taunus Feldberg Mountain

German word of the Day: die Umleitung

If you come to live in Oberursel, you’ll find yourself right in the middle between Frankfurt City (35 minutes by train) and the Feldberg Mountain (20 minutes by car).

Two days ago, the mountain had its first heavy snowfall and due to Eisbruch (ice disintegration) and tree branches falling off,  an Umleitung (detour) sign had to be put up.

Umleitung Feldberg

Feldberg Ast Dez 2014

This is what I call Winter Wonderland.

Feldberg Schnee Dez 2014

These photos were taken by @Bernd Lokki Peppler, published with his friendly permission.

Sledding and Skiing on the Feldberg

Back by popular demand is the answer to Where can we go sledding and skiing around here? In this case, this is from expats in and near Oberursel at the foot of the Taunus Mountains.

The state of Hessen boasts many sledding trails and the most popular ones are the hill in Falkenstein, downhill from Hohemark, Pechberg at Oberreifenberg, and at Sporthotel Erbismühle in Weilrod.

I personally prefer Oberreifenberg, but you should give the others a try too.

Oberreifenberg sledding trail

The Pechberg at Oberreifenberg has been recommended for sledding and skiing and also provides opportunities nearby for cross-country skiing and walking trails. The Pechberg is most suitable for ski beginners among the children and adults. Once you get to Waldstrasse in Oberreifenberg, you can see the little ski resort and the parking lot in Siegfriedstrasse.

There is a ski lift, which is also safe and suited for the little skiers. The sledders have their own trail.

Many families bring a little snow-picnic lunch along (hot juice or tea and sausages). There are also food vendors selling pizza and Bratwurst.

For a detailed snow update at the Pechberg (tar mountain), you can call 06081 – 442 138 for more information.

The Taunusklub lists four more skiing/sledding trails (in German) within the vicinity.

Zum Fuchstanz near Feldberg

A friend, an avid postcard collector, shared this card with me. It shows the Fuchstanz Restaurant in its original state as this card dates from around 1940. The stamped postal date was 26 July 1940, but the card had been in circulation as early as 1935.

I have been told that the Fuchstanz had been a popular spot, not only to local Germans, but also to American  Government Issues (G.I.s) and their families. These families were stationed at Camp King, Oberursel and  some of them enjoyed going up to the Fuchstanz for a family outing.

Zum Fuchstanz - postcard stamped 1940

The inscription reads:

Alljährlich am Ersten des Maien, wenn neu die Natur ist erwacht

Wenn alle Menschen sich freuen der herrlichen Frühlingspracht,

Dann spielen hier Elfen die Geigen, Waldvögelchen singen ihr Lied

Da tanzen die Füchse den Reigen, jedoch nur wenn niemand es sieht

Fuchstanz I. Taunus.

Back then, the Fuchstanz Restaurant was owned by Hofmann & Herr. On the postcard, note the telephone number did not even include an area code. Königstein I. Taunus (im Taunus) was also listed without a zip code.

The address today is as following:

Waldgaststätte und Waldcafé Fuchstanz, D-61462 Königstein / Taunus, Tillmannsweg 1
Tel. 06174 / 21 28 1, Fax 06174 / 74 69

Zum Fuchstanz, its current website and archives (with old postcards)

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