Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Little City, Big History

Wendover, Nevada

The Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats are part of the 110 mile drive from Salt Lake City, Utah, to the little border town of Wendover.

My brother works here dealing Texas Holdem at the "Nugget" from 1 AM to sometime after dawn. Colonel Paul Tibbets trained here in 1945 with one of the 15 specially modified "silverplate" B-29s that could carry the "little boy" or "fatman" atomic bombs.

You have to wonder at the black humor or wartime insanity that would lead the Colonel to name such an instrument of death after his mother, Enola Gay.

They spent a lot of time dropping 10,000 pound "pumpkins" around the wilds of Wendover and on Japan in single plane missions before dropping the "little boy" on Hiroshima". The picture below shows a "fatman" being loaded into the bomb bay of a modified B-29 (Modified bomb bay, no armor, no defensive machine guns).

Kit Carson sent smoke signals from Pilot Mountain in 1846 to assure pioneers that there was safe passage. The Salt Flats can turn to mush after heavy rain. Perhaps that's what bogged down the Donner Party before they turned to cannibalism 400 miles further west in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The distances in Nevada are deceiving. There are these endless valleys between mountain ranges that appear to be short distances but are miles further than the eye leads you to believe.

Once (about 1980) my brother had a farm 30 miles down a dirt road in one such endless valley. A Mormon settler had somehow built a wooden aqueduct from Pilot Mountain down to the farm that ended in a big pond full of trout. My brother would open a valve and flood his alfalfa fields (sometimes picking up a rainbow trout on an alfalfa row). He had to move out and move his house trailer to some acres he bought near the farm. Vandals knocked out all his windows and burned it all to the ground. They didn't burn his old van, but they did break all the windows.

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