Back at the parking lot, I inspected Jumbo, a large steel container originally intended to catch the plutonium from the bomb, if the test explosion failed. It was never used. Later, the ends were blown off with a conventional explosion. Standing in Jumbo is a popular photo opportunity.
From the parking lot, there was a bus ride to tour the nearby McDonald Ranch House, a single store adobe building where the first bomb was assembled. sits within an 85' x 85' low stone wall. The house was built in 1913 by Franz Schmidt, a German immigrant, and an addition was constructed on the north side in the 1930s by the McDonalds. There is a display on the Schmidt family in the house during each open house.
The McDonald ranch was abandoned in 1942 when the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range took over the land. The ranch house stood empty until the Manhattan Project support personnel arrived in January of 1945. The house is in surprisingly good condition when you consider that the world's first atomic blast took place only 2 miles away.
Then back to the edge of the parking lot, to check out the vendors. I had a pretty good hot dog, and bought a Trinity T-shirt.
By 10:40 I was back out to Highway 380 and turning east toward Carrizozo, New Mexico. The drive was mostly just more dessert, but the last few miles before the town, the road passes through the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. The stark black lava fields contrast with the surrounding sand, The lava field appears to have only about a third of the vegetation as the nearby desert.
copyright 2006-2009 by Keith Stokes.