West Virginia January 23, 2016
Visit This One Unique West Virginia Town For An Unforgettable Experience
Green Bank in Pocahontas County has been called the quietest town in America. It’s home to a big piece of technology, which ironically makes it illegal for people to have cell phones or even Wi-Fi.
Read on to find out why this tiny town is welcoming “wi-fi refugees.”
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Green Bank is home to the Green Bank Telescope, the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope, which is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
As one might imagine, the telescope itself is huge. Media reports indicate it weights 17 million pounds, spans 2 acres and is about 485 feet tall.
Because of the telescope, the town is part of the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, which extends to several counties in West Virginia, Virginia and a small part of Maryland. It covers about 13,000 square miles.
Restrictions are different depending on how close you are to the telescope. The biggest restrictions are for those within 20 miles of it. Radio transmitters are regulated within 10 miles of the NRAO facility. There's no cell phone reception, no radio stations.
The telescope can hear sounds from millions of miles away. Cell phones would drown out that sounds, which is why they are prohibited.
In 1961, Frank Drake at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory presented his “Drake Equation,” which provided an estimate of the total number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way.
Starting early this year it is part of another comprehensive search for intelligent life somewhere in the universe.
Because of its quietness, Green Bank draws people to it who say they are sensitive to electromagnetic activity. Since 2013, an estimated 13 people have moved to the town to escape cellular radiation.
That may not sound like a lot, but it’s considerable when you realize that the total population was only 143 at the 2010 census.
Those who have electromagnetic hypersensitivity report that they exposure to electromagnetic fields cause headaches, stress, problems sleeping as well as skin symptons like burning and rashes. While these symptoms are real, science has so far not connected them with electromagnetic or radio-frequency signals.
A “radio policeman” enforces this Quiet Zone policy using special equipment that detects signals from prohibited electronics.
Microwave ovens are frowned on. Gas-powered engines aren’t allowed within a mile of the telescope because the ignition system on spark-ignited engines causes radio interference.
Despite their policing, the NRAO doesn’t really have the power to enforce the rules, although the FCC can still impose a fine of $50 on violators. Most often they work with residents to find a solution.
Even if you don’t have a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields or a love of space, Green Bank is a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives.
For more information about the telescope,
Have you ever seen the Green Bank Telescope up close? What did you think?