Did You Know the Tallest Structure in the United States Is in… North Dakota?

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: July 24, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The tallest structure in the United States is the KRDK-TV mast in Traill County, North Dakota, standing at a staggering 2,060 feet.
  • This height is nearly equivalent to two Eiffel Towers and surpasses the height of 3 ½ Washington Monuments.
  • The tower has been destroyed and rebuilt twice.

You would think the tallest manmade structure in the United States would be in New York City. After all, the city is home to eight of the top-ten tallest skyscrapers in the United States (Chicago claims the other two). However, neither the Big Apple nor the Windy City can claim the tallest structure in the nation. That honor goes to a very unlikely place: North Dakota. Yes, you read that correctly. The Peace Garden State is where you’ll find a structure that is over 200 feet taller than One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the U.S.

KRDK-TV Mast

The tallest structure in the United States is the KRDK-TV mast in Traill County, North Dakota. The tower stands at a staggering 2,060 feet. That is nearly the height of two Eiffel Towers. It is taller than 3 ½ Washington Monuments.

The tower has been destroyed and rebuilt twice. The original tower was built in 1966. It was destroyed in a tragic accident. A Marine helicopter clipped the guy wires on February 14, 1968. All four passengers aboard the helicopter were killed. The tower was rebuilt later that year.

It came crashing down a second time on April 6, 1997. A winter storm coated the tower in a thick covering of ice, adding a tremendous amount of extra weight to the mast. The 70 mph winds in the winter storm brought the tower down. The current tower was completed the following year.

While this tower is the tallest structure in the United States today, that was not the case when it was originally built. That title went to another TV mast that is, incredibly, only about five miles away from the KRDK tower.

KRDK-TV mast from a mile away.

This is a look at the KRDK-TV mast from a mile away.

©Hephaestos at the English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

KVLY-TV Mast

The KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota was completed on August 13, 1963. It reached a staggering height of 2,063 feet, three feet taller than the KRDK tower that would be built a few years later. This mast was the tallest structure in the world in 1963. In fact, it was the first manmade structure in history to reach over 2,000 feet high. 

vertical picture of KVLY mast

The KVLY-TV mast was the tallest structure ever built by humans when it was completed in 1963.

©Ratsbew at English Wikipedia / CC BY 3.0 – License

The tower would remain the world’s tallest structure for over a decade. It lost that title when the Warsaw radio mast was built in Gąbin, Poland in 1974. It was built to broadcast Communist propaganda. The signal was so powerful that it could be heard in parts of Canada and the United States. The Warsaw radio tower stood 57 feet taller than the KVLY mast. However, structural mistakes combined with a lack of maintenance caused the immense tower to deteriorate. The Warsaw mast collapsed in 1991, which meant the title of the world’s tallest structure reverted back to the KVLY mast.

The mast in Blanchard, North Dakota, would remain the world’s tallest structure until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai surpassed it in 2008. 

The KVLY-TV mast lost a little bit of its historic height when the VHF antenna was removed in 2019. It now stands 1,987 feet tall. The removal of the antenna meant the KVLY-TV mast would forfeit the title of the tallest structure in the U.S. That honor now belongs to the KRDK-TV mast. 

KVLY-TV mast

The KVLY tower was the tallest manmade structure on Earth for several years.

©Ratsbew / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Just How Big Are These Towers?

These towers are still among the tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere, though they are often omitted from such lists because they are not freestanding structures. The masts are supported through guy wire systems.

If you’re still having trouble conceptualizing just how tall these masts really are, the drone shots of the KVLY mast in the video below add some terrific perspective.

Footprint and Weight

The footprint of masts this size is over 150 acres. That is the space required for the extensive network of guy wires required to support a 2,000-foot-tall tower.

The total weight of the KVLY tower is an astounding 864,500 pounds. That is nearly twice the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

KVLY mast Pylon

The guy wires needed to support these towers are almost as impressive as the towers themselves.

©The original uploader was Hephaestos at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Where is KRDK-TV Mast Located on a Map?

The KRDK-TV mast is a prominent television transmitting tower located in Traill County, North Dakota, United States.

With an impressive height of 2,060 feet, it currently holds the position as the second-tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere and ranks as the eighth-tallest structure in the entire world.

Here is KRDK-TV Mast on a map:

Traill County, North Dakota

Both of these altitudinous TV masts are located in Traill County in west-central North Dakota. The county sits on the North Dakota/Minnesota border.

The KRDK mast is licensed to Valley City, North Dakota. It is owned and operated by Major Market Broadcasting. The mast broadcasts multiple TV networks, including Cozi TV and MyNetworkTV. The former call letters of the station were KXJB.

The KVLY tower is owned by Gray Television, a company based in Atlanta. It broadcasts the KVLY TV signal, an NBC affiliate based in Fargo. When the tower was constructed in 1963, the call letters of the original TV station were KTHI. “HI” was meant to represent the historic height of the mast.

The picture below is a 17-photo vertical panorama of the KRDK-TV mast.

A 17 image vertical panorama of the KRDK TV mast near Blanchard, ND

©Mfield, Matthew Field, http://www.photography.mattfield.com / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Breigouze/ via Getty Images


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About the Author

Mike is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on geography, agriculture, and marine life. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and a resident of Cincinnati, OH, Mike is deeply passionate about the natural world. In his free time, he, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks.

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