Indiana Historical Sites: the Cairo Skywatch Tower
Ground Observer Corps: Simple But Effective
Three-quarters of a million volunteers watched the skies, trained to identify Soviet aircraft. Such a threat was plausible. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed by a single, high-flying bomber buzzing miles in the sky. Suspecting Soviets might try a similar tactic was prudent, although it luckily never occurred.
The Cairo Skywatch Tower wasn’t haphazardly located in Tippecanoe County. It was located along well-lit cities and towns that, to an approaching bomber, would be like a directional arrow for a Soviet attack on Chicago.
Businesses in Battle Ground and Lafayette donated the supplies to build the 40-foot tall tower. Starting in 1952, thousands of Operation Skywatch volunteers cycled around the clock in two-hour shifts for the next two years. Thin walls with wide windows protected observers from the wind and a phone in the tower went straight to the Air Force base in South Bend. Just in case.