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NRHS Trip Day 2 Flagstaff to Farmington 7/2/2016



by Chris Guenzler



We awoke to rainshowers so I checked on Amtrak and it was running over 2.5 hours late. I got Robin up at 6:15 AM and after we loaded the car in the rain, we left Flagstaff and headed east. Trying to escape the thunderstorms we went to Darling but it was still raining so we headed east on Interstate 40. Nearing Canyon Diablo the weather looked more promising. So we took a road or maybe a cow path slow and steady and made it to the bridge.

Canyon Diablo History

The town originated about 1882, due to construction delays attributed to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad ordering the wrong span length railroad bridge across the canyon. The bridge story is that the original bridge when ordered was not long enough to span Canyon Diablo, and this was only discovered when the bridge arrived on site from the manufacturer. Consequently, for six months the transcontinental railroad ended at the lip of Canyon Diablo while another bridge was manufactured and shipped to the work site.

The original pillars the bridge was mounted on were excavated from the surrounding Kaibab Limestone and shaped on site by Italian stonemasons. The ruins of the lodgings of the railroad workmen are on the west end of the bridge site. Although the railroad ended at the edge of the canyon, work on the railroad route still progressed. Crews were sent ahead to survey the route, prepare the grade and bed, cut and prestage railroad ties and other supplies in advance of the iron rails that would accompany the trains once the canyon was spanned when the new bridge arrived. Work quickly progressed until the A&P crew linked up with the Southern Pacific Railroad crews at Needles, California on August 9, 1883.

Originally a small mobile business community catering to the needs of railroad men, once the railroad stopped at the edge of the canyon this community quickly produced numerous saloons, brothels, dance halls, and gambling houses, all of which remained open 24 hours a day. No lawmen were employed by the community initially, so it quickly became a very dangerous place. Its population was mostly railroad workers, along with passing outlaws, gamblers, and prostitutes. The town was designed with two lines of buildings facing one another across the rock bed main street. The center street, however, was not named Main Street, but "Hell Street". It consisted of fourteen saloons, ten gambling houses, four brothels and two dance halls. Also on this street were two eating counters, one grocery store, and one dry goods store. Scattered about in the vicinity of downtown were large numbers of tents, shotgun houses, and hastily thrown up shacks that served as local residences.

Within a short time the town had 2,000 residents. A regular stagecoach route from Flagstaff to Canyon Diablo began running and was often the victim of robberies. Within its first year, the town received its first marshal. He was sworn in at 3:00pm, and was being buried at 8:00pm that same night. Five more town marshals would follow, the longest lasting one month, and all were killed in the line of duty. A "Boot Hill" cemetery sprouted up at the end of town, which in less than a decade had 35 graves, all of whom had been killed by way of violent death. The 36th grave was that of former trading post owner Herman Wolfe, who died in 1899, the only one to have died a nonviolent death.

Herman Wolfe's trading post was at "Wolfe's Crossing" on the Little Colorado River about 12 miles north of Leupp, Arizona and near a place called Tolchaco. Herman Wolfe died there and his body was transported to Canyon Diablo for burial. Currently Wolfe's grave is heavily monumented and the story is that after World War II a relative from Germany found his grave and installed the headstone and other improvements on the grave site.

When the railroad bridge was completed, the town quickly died. By 1903, the only thing remaining in the town was a Navajo trading post. Later in the 20th century, when Route 66 passed within several miles of the town, a gas station and roadhouse called Two Guns sprang up, but it too was short-lived. What remains today at Canyon Diablo are a few building foundations, the grave marker and grave of Herman Wolfe, and the ruins of the trading post.





BNSF 6215 West and DPUs on the rear end at Canyon Diablo.







BNSF 6258 east at Canyon Diablo.





BNSF 6562 West at Canyon Diablo.











BNSF 8164 West meets Amtrak's Southwest Chief Train 4 at Canyon Diablo. We left Canyon Diablo two very happy railfans but I drove slow and steady back to the paved highway. We then decided to visit the Meteor Crater. We drove into the park.

Meteor Crater History

Meteor Crater is a meteorite impact crater approximately 37 miles east of Flagstaff and 18 miles west of Winslow in the northern Arizona desert of the United States. Because the United States Board on Geographic Names commonly recognizes names of natural features derived from the nearest post office, the feature acquired the name of "Meteor Crater" from the nearby post office named Meteor. The site was formerly known as the Canyon Diablo Crater and fragments of the meteorite are officially called the Canyon Diablo Meteorite. Scientists refer to the crater as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer, who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact. The crater is privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company, which proclaims it to be the "best preserved meteorite crater on Earth".

Despite its importance as a geological site, the crater is not protected as a national monument, a status that would require federal ownership. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in November 1967.

Meteor Crater lies at an elevation of about 5,710 feet above sea level. It is about 3,900 ft in diameter, some 560 feet deep, and is surrounded by a rim that rises 148 feet above the surrounding plains. The center of the crater is filled with 690=790 feet of rubble lying above crater bedrock. One of the interesting features of the crater is its squared-off outline, believed to be caused by existing regional jointing (cracks) in the strata at the impact site.

Formation

The crater was created about 50,000 years ago during the Pleistocene epoch, when the local climate on the Colorado Plateau was much cooler and damper. The area was an open grassland dotted with woodlands inhabited by woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths.

Since the crater's formation, the rim is thought to have lost 49-66 feet of height at the rim crest due to natural erosion. Similarly, the basin of the crater is thought to have approximately 98 ft of additional post-impact sedimentation from lake sediments and of alluvium. These erosion processes are the reason that very few remaining craters are visible on Earth, since many have been erased by these geological processes. The relatively young age of Meteor Crater, paired with the Arizona climate, have allowed this crater to remain almost unchanged since its formation. The lack of erosion that preserved the crater's shape helped lead to this crater being the first crater recognized as an official impact crater from a natural celestial body.

The object that excavated the crater was a nickel-iron meteorite about 160 feet across. The speed of the impact has been a subject of some debate. Modeling initially suggested that the meteorite struck at up to 12 miles per second but more recent research suggests the impact was substantially slower, at 8.0 miles per second. It is believed that about half of the impactor's bulk was vaporized during its descent. Impact energy has been estimated at about 10 megatons. The meteorite was mostly vaporized upon impact, leaving little remains in the crater.

Discovery and investigation

The crater came to the attention of scientists following its discovery by European settlers in the 19th century. Dubbed the Canyon Diablo Crater from Canyon Diablo, Arizona, the closest community to the crater in the late 19th century, 12 miles north-west of the crater but now a ghost town, it had initially been ascribed to the actions of a volcano. This was not an unreasonable assumption, as the San Francisco volcanic field lies only about 40 miles to the west.

Albert E. Foote

In 1891, the mineralogist Albert E. Foote presented the first scientific paper about the meteorites of Northern Arizona. Several years earlier, Foote had received an iron rock for analysis from a railroad executive. Foote immediately recognized the rock as a meteorite and led an expedition to search and retrieve additional meteorite samples. The team collected samples ranging from small fragments to over 600 pounds. Foote identified several minerals in the meteorites, including diamond, albeit of little commercial value. His paper to the Association for the Advancement of Science provided the first geological description of the crater to a scientific community.

Grove Karl Gilbert

In November 1891, Grove Karl Gilbert, chief geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, investigated the crater and concluded that it was the result of a volcanic steam explosion. Gilbert had assumed that if it were an impact crater then the volume of the crater, as well as meteoritic material, should be present on the rim. Gilbert also assumed a large portion of the meteorite should be buried in the crater and that this would generate a large magnetic anomaly. Gilbert's calculations showed that the volume of the crater and the debris on the rim were roughly equivalent, so that the mass of the hypothetical impactor was missing, nor were there any magnetic anomalies. Gilbert argued that the meteorite fragments found on the rim were coincidental. Gilbert publicized his conclusions in a series of lectures. In 1892, Gilbert would be among the first to propose that the Moon's craters were caused by impact rather than volcanism.

Daniel Barringer

In 1903, mining engineer and businessman Daniel M. Barringer suggested that the crater had been produced by the impact of a large iron-metallic meteorite. Barringer's company, the Standard Iron Company, staked a mining claim to the land and received a land patent signed by Theodore Roosevelt for 640 acres around the center of the crater in 1903. The claim was divided into four quadrants coming from the center clockwise from north-west named Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In 1906, Roosevelt authorized the establishment of a newly named Meteor, Arizona, post office (the closest post office before was 30 miles away in Winslow, Arizona).

Standard Iron Company conducted research on the crater's origins between 1903 and 1905. It concluded that the crater had indeed been caused by an impact. Barringer and his partner, the mathematician and physicist Benjamin Chew Tilghman, documented evidence for the impact theory in papers presented to the U.S. Geological Survey in 1906 and published in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Fragment of the Cayon Diablo Meteorite

Barringer's arguments were met with skepticism, as there was a reluctance at the time to consider the role of meteorites in terrestrial geology. He persisted and sought to bolster his theory by locating the remains of the meteorite. At the time of first discovery by Europeans, the surrounding plains were covered with about 30 tons of large oxidized iron meteorite fragments. This led Barringer to believe that the bulk of the impactor could still be found under the crater floor. Impact physics was poorly understood at the time and Barringer was unaware that most of the meteorite vaporized on impact. He spent 27 years trying to locate a large deposit of meteoric iron, and drilled to a depth of 1,375 feet but no significant deposit was ever found.

Barringer, who in 1894 was one of the investors who made $15 million in the Commonwealth silver mine in Pearce, Cochise County, Arizona, had ambitious plans for the iron ore. He estimated from the size of the crater that the meteorite had a mass of 100 million tons. The current estimate of 300,000 tons for the impactor is only three-tenths of one percent of Barringer's estimate. Iron ore of the type found at the crater was valued at the time at $125/ton, so Barringer was searching for a lode he believed to be worth more than a billion 1903 dollars.

Despite Barringer's findings and other excavations in the early 20th century, geologists' skepticism continued until the 1950s when planetary science gained in maturity and understanding of cratering processes increased. Professor Herman Leroy Fairchild, an early promoter of impact cratering, argued Barringer's case in an article in Science in 1930.

Eugene M. Shoemaker

It was not until 1960 that later research by Eugene Merle Shoemaker confirmed Barringer's hypothesis. The key discovery was the presence in the crater of the minerals coesite and stishovite, rare forms of silica found only where quartz-bearing rocks have been severely shocked by an instantaneous overpressure. It cannot be created by volcanic action; the only known mechanisms of creating it is naturally through an impact event, or artificially through a nuclear explosion.

Shoemaker's discovery is considered the first definitive proof of an extraterrestrial impact on the Earth's surface. Since then, numerous impact craters have been identified around the world, though Meteor Crater remains one of the most visually impressive owing to its size, young age and lack of vegetative cover.

Today

Meteor Crater is a popular tourist attraction privately owned by the Barringer family through the Barringer Crater Company, with an admission fee charged to see the crater. The Meteor Crater Visitor Center on the north rim features interactive exhibits and displays about meteorites and asteroids, space, the solar system and comets. It features the American Astronaut Wall of Fame and such artifacts on display as an Apollo boilerplate command module (BP-29), a 1,406 pound meteorite found in the area, and meteorite specimens from Meteor Crater that can be touched. Formerly known as the Museum of Astrogeology, the Visitor Center includes a movie theater, a gift shop, and observation areas with views inside the rim of the crater. Guided tours of the rim are offered daily.

My Visit

I paid my fee and first went to the upper observation point.





San Francisco Peak still under cloud cover.





The views north and northeast of the Meteor Crater.







Views from the Upper Observation Point of the Meteor Crater.











Views from the Middle Observation Point of the Meteor Crater.







Views from the Lower Observation Point of the Meteor Crater.





The Holisinger Meteorite is the largest discovered fragment of the 150 foot meteor that created the Meteor Crater.





Collision and Impact. Robin went on a tour while I went out to the car to wait for him. From here we went east to Winslow and Exit 252 and turned right to the bridge over the BNSF mainline just as a westbound BNSF train came underneath us.







BNSF 7922 West just west of West Winslow.









BNSF 6857 West just west of West Winslow. From here we drove into downtown Winslow.





The Standing on a Corner in Winslow, Arzona statue. From here we went to the La Posada Motel in the old Santa Fe Harvey House in Winslow.

La Posada Hotel History

La Posada embodies the visions of both Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the hotel's renowned architect, and Allan Affeldt, its current owner. But the story really begins with Fred Harvey, who "civilized the west" by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel. (He was so legendary that MGM made a movie called The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland.) Harvey developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway, eventually controlling a hospitality empire that spanned the continent.

In the 1920s, Harvey decided to build a major hotel in the center of northern Arizona. La Posada, the "Resting Place" was to be the finest in the Southwest. Construction costs alone exceeded $1 million in 1929. Total budget with grounds and furnishings was rumored at $2 million (about $40 million in today's dollars). They chose Winslow, then (as now) the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Winslow was ideally situated for a resort hotel since everything to see and do in northern Arizona is a comfortable day?s drive. They asked Colter to design the new hotel.

Colter worked for the Fred Harvey Company from 1905 until her retirement in the 1950s. Although famous for her magnificent buildings at the Grand Canyon, she considered La Posada her masterpiece. Here she was able to design or select everything from the structures to the landscape, furniture, maid's costumes, and dinner china. Many people consider this the most important and most beautiful building in the Southwest.

After Its Heyday: La Posada's Fate La Posada opened May 15, 1930, just after the stock market crash of 1929, and remained open for just 27 years. In 1957, the hotel closed to the public. The museum-quality furnishings were auctioned off in 1959. In the early 1960s, much of the building was gutted and transformed into offices for the Santa Fe Railway. Several times over the ensuing 40 years, the building was nearly demolished, as recently as 1994 when the railway announced its plans to move out for good.

Saving a National Treasure

The National Trust for Historic Preservation found out about La Posada's peril and added it to their endangered list where it came to the attention of Allan Affeldt. But La Posada was never for sale. Allan Affeldt purchased it from the Santa Fe Railway after learning that the property was in danger. He visited the hotel in 1994 and decided to help local preservationists save it. This daunting task entailed negotiating for 3 years with the railroad and resolving various legal, environmental, and financial obstacles. He established La Posada LLC to take on the enormous risk and complexity of the estimated $12 million restoration. Allan and his wife Tina Mion moved in April 1, 1997. Daniel Lutzick became the third partner and General Manager.

Although none of the partners is a hotelier by training, they have accomplished what once seemed impossible-transforming a forgotten but magical place into a living museum. Allan oversees the overall rehabilitation design, architecture, financing, and planning. Tina, a renowned artist, paints in her studio upstairs; her art is now an integral part of La Posada experience. Dan, a sculptor, maintains day-to-day operations of the hotel as general manager and coordinates exhibits and events. The president of the Winslow Arts Trust, he operates Snowdrift Art Space down the street at 108 West 2nd Street.







Views of the La Posada Motel.





The Santa Fe Winslow station.





The Pennsylvania Railroad Louis Sockalexis observation car.





The Santa Cruz a baggage dorm.





Santa Fe 502 Plaza Lamy.





The covered outside hallway at the La Posada Hotel. Robin and I left Winslow to our next stop on Holbrook.







Santa Fe Holbrook station and freighthouse. We then headed east on Interstate 40.



Click here for Part 2 of this story!