KVLY-TV Mast, North Dakota – The Tallest Structure in the Western Hemisphere

KVLY-TV Mast in Blanchard, North Dakota

photography by: Pat Hawks/ Wikimedia Commons

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If you were to randomly ask people what is the tallest man-made building in the Americas, most answers would probably be either the One World Trade Center in NYC, or Toronto’s CN Tower. It should then come as a surprise that the title holder is actually an unassuming television mast in North Dakota. Formerly the world’s tallest structure, the KVLY-TV Mast in Blanchard might lack the glamor of its famous counterparts, yet it is nonetheless a formidable record breaker.

When thinking about super-tall buildings, the first thing that comes to mind is often the flashy glass-skyscrapers which every world city is embellished with these days. Nevertheless, a single tv mast in the township of Blanchard ND proves that also an unpretentious antenna can have its share of fame. At the height of 2,063 feet or 629 meters, KVLY-TV Mast is the tallest man-made structure in the western hemisphere, surpassing a glut of ultra-famous towers.


Erected in 1963 by a pair of South Carolinian construction companies, the massive pole exceeded the then unreachable 2,000 feet threshold, and by doing so became the world’s tallest structure. In fact, it held the coveted title until 1974, when a 2,232 feet tall radio mast in Warsaw was constructed. Following the collapse of its Polish counterpart in 1991, the KVLY-TV Mast regained its number one position, and then lost it again in 2008 to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. As of today, it is the fifth tallest structure worldwide.


As the mast is anchored to the ground by a couple of guy wires, it is automatically excluded from the free-standing structure category. Despite its sheer absence from the global hall of fame of high-rises, the nondescript antenna has a myriad of impressive features. For instance, its broadcasting area covers a whopping 9,700 square miles (25,000 square kilometers), a landmass larger than Wales.


The massively tall structure is nestled a few kilometers away from the KRDK-TV mast, whose 2,060 feet of height are only 3 meters shy of the article’s protagonist. Both masts, however, would not be granted a building permit nowadays as since then, several federal authorities enacted a policy, where any plan to construct a structure taller than 2,000 feet is immediately rejected.