National Security Agency (NSA) Communications Facility, Sugar Grove
Deep in the hills of West Virginia is the main NSA facility for intercepting communications from satellites over the Atlantic Ocean.
Officially known as the Sugar Grove Naval Communications Facility, this is the main National Security Agency listening post for communications and signals intelligence satellites over the Atlantic. While this facility doesn’t admit its true purpose (that’s why it’s officially a “naval communications facility”), the giveaway is the fact that the Federal Communications Commission has created a “special exclusion zone” at this site and for some distance to the east. The frequencies used for downlinking data from spy satellites are also used for civilian industrial and scientific applications in most of the country. A “special exclusion zone” bans all civilian terrestrial use of those frequencies in areas where spy satellite data is received. The FCC has created such a zone with the Sugar Grove facility at the western end and extending 40 kilometers to the east, a pattern consistent with an effort to monitor satellites over the Atlantic.
What’s There: Aerial photos show four large satellite dish antennas one measuring 46 meters in diameter oriented toward the east. In addition, there are two large support buildings near the antennas and a parking lot. The road from Highway 220 to the facility continues to at least two other large buildings and several smaller buildings are visible; the area has been completely cleared of trees.
Getting a Look Inside: There is no public admittance to this facility and trespassing is prohibited.
Getting There: The facility is located in the woods east of Sugar Grove along Highway 220; the facility is not visible from the road because of trees although a gated, paved road leads north to the site.
Roads to National Security Agency (NSA) Communications Facility, Sugar Grove