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Posts Tagged ‘Enola Gay’

Wendover and Salduro, Utah (with bonus coverage of Tinian Island)

Posted by graywacke on March 21, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2333; A Landing A Day blog post number 764.

boxDan:  Today’s lat/long 40o 53.866’N, 113o 53.416’W) puts me in NW Utah:

landing-1

Here’s my local map:

landing-2

Before going on, I need (want?) to mention that I suffered through 5 “waterings” (as opposed to “landings”) before I hit dry land:  2 in the Atlantic, 2 in the Pacific, and 1 in Lake Superior.

I’m in the desert, and there are no streams anywhere close to my landing.  So what the heck, I’ll jump right to my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight on in to NW Utah.  Click HERE, please.

So here’s my watershed analysis:

ge-watershed

If Noah’s Flood were to occur (or I mean re-occur), runoff from my landing would make its way over to Great Salt Lake (which would get quite a lot bigger after 40 days and 40 nights of rain).  Otherwise, there ain’t no way any runoff from my landing will ever make it to the lake. . .

Here’s an oblique GE shot of my landing, looking west:

ge-1

And here’s another, from just behind Pilot Peak, looking east:

ge-2

In terms of distance, GE Street View coverage isn’t very good.  But considering the expansive vista across the salt flats, it’s not bad:

ge-sv-landing-map

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge-sv-landing

Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of Pilot Peak from just SW of my landing (by ANomad):

pano-anomad-from-5-sw-pilot-peak

While I’m at it, here’s a Pano shot of the mountains to the NE of my landing, by Springlake:

 

pano-springlake-5-mi-se

Think maybe there used to be a lake here?  The horizontal lines are old shorelines!

And here’s my most local Pano shot, taken just a couple of miles to the SW of my landing (also by Springlake):

pano-springlake-3-mi-sw

(Regular readers may be wondering why I didn’t save these shots for the end of the post.  I guess I could have, but I found some really spectacular photos for my close, as you’ll see.)

Time to move on to Salduro.  Salduro means hard (duro) salt (sal), a good name for a town on the Bonneville Salt Flats.  The town was founded because of local mining of salt and potash (a potassium-rich salt).  The mining declined in the 40s, and the town disappeared.

Here’s a Wiki shot of an eastbound train going past a couple of buildings in or near Salduro, in 1912:

western_pacific_railroad_eastbound_passenger_train_crossing_the_bonneville_salt_flats_near_salduro_utah_circa_1912

Now we’ll move about 8 miles west to Wendover.  Just a couple of items caught my interest.  From Wiki:

The transcontinental telephone line was completed as workers raised the final pole at Wendover, Utah on June 27, 1914, after construction of 3,400 miles of telephone line.  The line was successfully voice tested by the president of AT&T, Theodore Vail, in July.

Six months later, on January 25, 1915, amidst the celebrations surrounding the Panama–Pacific International Exposition [aka the San Francisco World’s Fair], the first “official transcontinental call” was made between New York and San Francisco.

Alexander Graham Bell, in New York City, repeated his famous statement “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,” which was heard by his assistant Mr. Watson in San Francisco, for a long distance call of 3,400 miles. Mr. Watson replied, “It will take me five days to get there!” President Woodrow Wilson and the mayors of both cities were also involved in the call, which officially initiated AT&T’s transcontinental service.

Also from Wiki, here’s the second item that caught my eye:

During World War II, the nearby Wendover Army Air Field was a training base for bomber pilots, including the crew of the Enola Gay. The Enola Gay was stationed here until June 1945.  The Enola Gay dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima Japan two months later, on August 6th.

Sobering, indeed.  Any mention of the Enola Gay and/or Hiroshima takes me back to the mid-1990s when I was working for Mobil Oil (as an environmental guy specializing in the clean-up of soil & groundwater contamination).  I had quite the business trip:

  • Travel from Newark to Sydney via L.A.
  • Four days in Sydney (which included a non-working weekend)
  • A travel day
  • Four days in Melbourne (which also included a non-working weekend)
  • All of the above with my wife Jody! A great trip!
  • A travel day (Jody going home, me going to Hong Kong)
  • Two days in Hong Kong
  • A travel day
  • Two days in Guam
  • One day in Saipan
  • One day visiting Tinian & Rota
  • One more day in Guam
  • Back home (via Honolulu and Houston to Newark)

So what does the above itinerary have to do with the Enola Gay and Hiroshima?  I suspect that at least a few of my readers know:  The Enola Gay took off from an air field in Tinian to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima.

Here’s a GE shot to put things in perspective:

ge-tinian1

 My visit to Tinian included a trip to the deserted and overgrown airfield.

The entire scene was surreal.  We were the only people there; no souvenir stands, not at all touristy.  The runways were hardly visible, thanks to the tangle of vegetation closing in from both sides.

Most eerily, the trip included a visit to a large soil-filled rectangular hole in the pavement.

Large rectangular hole?  Here’s the story:  the A-bomb was loaded in the belly of the plane, and it was so big that they needed to first lower the bomb into the hole (which was not filled with soil back then), taxi the plane over the hole, and raise the bomb through the bomb bay door.

A plaque next to the hole identified it as the bomb pit for the Enola Gay.

Actually, there were two separate holes – one for the Enola Gay and the Hiroshima bomb (“Little Boy”) and another for the Bockscar (a name I might have read about on a plaque in Tinian, but don’t remember) and the Nagasaki bomb (“Fat Man”). 

Here’s a GE Panoramio shot (like what I saw) of Pit #2 (for the Bockscar) – Panoramio shot by MontaraPete:

pano-montarapete

 As part of the 60th anniversary of the taking of the islands (in 2005), both pits were excavated, and covered thusly (Pano shot by Likai):

pano-likai

To put the Tinian effort into a little perspective, here’s a little WWII history.  Before Tinian was captured from the Japanese, the Allies took Saipan (from Wiki):

The Battle of Saipan from 15 June to 9 July 1944 was one of the major campaigns of World War II. The United States Marines and United States Army landed on the beaches of the southwestern side of the island, and spent more than three weeks in heavy fighting to secure the island from the Japanese.

The battle cost the Americans 3,426 killed and 10,364 wounded, whereas of the estimated 30,000 Japanese defenders, only 921 were taken prisoner. Some 20,000 Japanese civilians perished during the battle, including over 1,000 who committed suicide by jumping from “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff” rather than be taken prisoner.

During my stay, I visited the cliff (GE shot):

ge-cliff

And a GE Pano shot by Rodger Springsteen:

pano-rodger-springsteen

And then the Allies took Tinian.  From Wiki:

The island was seized by the Allies during the Battle of Tinian from 24 July to 1 August 1944. Over 300 Americans lost their lives, but of the 8500-man Japanese garrison, only 313 survived the battle.

From AtomicHeritage.org:

Navy construction battalions known as the SeaBees began bulldozing mere days after the island was secured. Six runways were completed within two months and Tinian soon became the biggest air base in the world. North Field consisted of four airfields and supported 269 B-29s.

tinian_airfields_1945_looking_north_to_south

Phillip Morrison, who went to Tinian to help assemble Fat Man, spoke eloquently about Tinian’s transformation, stating:

“Tinian is a miracle. Here, 6,000 miles from San Francisco, the United States armed forces have built the largest airport in the world. A great coral ridge was half-leveled to fill a rough plain, and to build six runways, each an excellent 10-lane highway, each almost two miles long. Beside these runways stood in long rows the great silvery airplanes. They were not by the dozen, but by the hundred. From the air this island, smaller than Manhattan, looked like a giant aircraft carrier, its deck loaded with bomber…”

~From: Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bombs (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), 681.

Unbelievable.  The whole story is unbelievable.  So much death, so much suffering, yet unfathomable dedication to victory.

On the lighter side (if you could call it that), here’s some more from Wiki:

The base was a 40,000-personnel installation, and the Navy Seabees laid out the base in a pattern of city streets resembling New York City’s Manhattan Island, and named the streets accordingly. The former Japanese town of Sunharon was nicknamed “The Village” because its location corresponded to that of Greenwich Village. A large square area between West and North Fields, used primarily for the location of the base hospitals and otherwise left undeveloped, was called Central Park.

The main drags on Tinian are Broadway and 8th Avenue:

ge-tinian4

Here’s the intersection of Broadway and 42nd Street:

ge-tinian5

I also found 86th Street, 2nd Avenue, and Riverside Drive.  There are likely more Manhattan streets, but these are all I could find on GE.

And why are the Navy SeaBees called SeaBees?  Because they were (and are) the Navy’s “Construction Battalion.”  Here’s their logo:

720px-usn-seabees-insignia-svg

Well, it seems to me that it’s time to head back to Utah.  Although I didn’t mention it earlier,  I landed about 30 miles further east (landing 2164) a couple of years ago (March 2015).  For landing 2164, I presented some spectacular GE Pano shots of the Bonneville Salt Flats – actually much closer to this landing.

I’ll close out this post with some of them. Here’s a cool shot (by Micah Sheldon) of the western portion of the Flats in winter – when there’s often an inch or two of water:

bsf1

Here’s a great shot by Will Huff (willhuff.net):

bsf2

And some desiccation cracks by Cassegrain:

bsf3

I’ll close with this other-worldly sunset shot by Nick Stelma:

bsf4

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

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