An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin


Surplus Photos

I spent last weekend combing the house and office getting every predigital photograph of Meteor Crater together. Now I have to scan the ones that will go into the new book. But I have many great pictures that donít show anything discussed so I will share just a few with you this month.

This first photograph is of Canyon Diablo just west of the crater. It is of course the geographical feature that the meteorites of the crater are named after. The canyonís vertical walls have been carved out by its seasonal stream over the eons. They show the same rock layers as those at the crater. Of course these are not shattered and tilted. It is a quiet and beautiful place. The canyon bottom at the time of this photo was lush with green vegetation.

Certain times of the year thunderstorms boil up in the afternoon and evening over Meteor Crater and you can get some great lightning pictures. In this photo a bright bolt has struck just behind the old Ninninger ruin. We stayed outside that night and got dozens of photographs of nearby strikes. For a while we thought the electrical activity would pass through the Meteor Crater RV Park and hit where we were. But, it stayed just far enough away to be fun to watch without danger.

Near Meteor Crater are some great Native American ruins. Associated with the ruins are many large panels of petroglyphs. Here is a photo of one small part of a panel. I have surveyed these pretty carefully and found no glyphs that can be related to Meteor Crater. But, they are rich with anthropomorphic and animal types. And some are deeply incised into the softer rocks as relief art. There was a substantial population in the area at the time these ruin were inhabited. Yet the crater only a few miles away is almost free of artifacts.

At the site of the south rim drill hole from the early 1920ís are some bricks scattered among the other artifacts that remain. LAPB Co. is molded into their exterior. The letters stand for Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company. Several styles of bricks are represented. And if you look very carefully you maybe able to see the mark of the screwhead that held the nameplate to the mold on one of the bricks. LAPB Co. not only made bricks but also made terracotta tiles; some of which now bring hundreds of dollars at art auctions. My general impression was that there had been a forge at the site to make iron and steel parts and do repairs as needed. The bricks at the site had the characteristic color of firebricks further supporting this idea. Upon researching the company name it turns out that LAPB Co. was in the business of making fire clay bricks from two plants one, in Los Angeles and one in Santa Monica. They were using a large deposit of flint clay found in a neighboring county. It is one of the few such deposits to be found in the entire country. There was also a relationship of some kind to Gladding, McBean & Co. There is reference to the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company kilns at Gladding, McBean. The later company is still in business today. Both of these enterprises have been responsible for the terracotta decorations on building across the Western US.

This picture of the Holsinger Fragment is from before it was moved to its new location at the top of the stairs. It formerly was in the museum. I like the way this picture came out showing the thumb printing really well and its color.

And lastly a picture of the ZigZag trail in the southeast corner of the crater. It is one of the trails that remain easy to see. Most of the others around the walls are becoming difficult to trace. Even when you are on a trail you can barely see what is just in front of you. It is almost easier to simply pick you own way up the wall of the crater. But looking back or ahead at the portion farther away you can see the trail fainted there. Meteor Crater had at one time a large number of more or less maintained trails. Now with no people using them most are being absorbed back into the natural appearance of the crater. Slowly washing away or being covered by landslides these trails will be just a memory recorded on photos like this one. No sign of the past intensive use the crater received will remain.

Now I need to make some time for scanning photos, so I can finish my book. There must be a few Meteor Crater lovers out there in the world who would like to read it. Writing and looking at old photographs helps keep me satisfied between trips and it has been too long now since I was last at the Crater. Need to make a plan to get there again.