Wigwams and Meteors

Wigwams and classic cars

Wigwams and classic cars

Traveling on I-40 near Holbrook, Arizona suddenly giant

teepees or wigwams appear. There are fifteen of

the giant white wigwams built out of concrete and set up in a square. There is a red zig zag horizontal stripe above door level and the top foot or so of the cone is also red.

The wigwam village was built in 1950 by Chester E. Lewis from plans of Frank A. Redford and was officially designated village # 6. The wigwams are 14 feet  (4.3 meters) wide and are 32 feet ( 9.8 meters) high. Each wigwam has twin beds a small bathroom with sink and toilet and a space heater.

Only 3 of the original  7 wigwam villages survive. This one in Holbrook is listed in the national registry of historic places. Old cars from the fifties give the motel a more authentic look. Chester Lewis descendants still own and operate the motel.

The original office used to be a wigwam too but Texaco objected to the unusual structure and a more conventional rectangular structure was built to keep the Texaco gas franchise.

There are 2 other popular attractions in the area The Petrified forest and the Meteor crater.

Petrified Forest

The petrified forest was formed over millions of years. In the late Triassic period this area was a wet forest. As the trees died and fell minerals in the water permeated the tree cells and turned the trees to stone. Later the area dried out and was uplifted to it’s present condition. In 1906 the area became a national park.

Meteor Crater

The crater is near Winslow Arizona.  It is at 5709 feet (1740 m ). The crater is 4000 feet (1200 m) in diameter. It is 570 feet (170 m) deep. The rim rises 150 feet ( 49 m) above the local area. The land is owned by the Barrister family.

The impact happened about 50,000 years ago when an iron nickel meteorite about 162 feet or 50 meters in diameter collided with the earth at about 28,600 miles an hour. Woolly mammoths and giant sloths lived in the area at this time. About half of the meteorite burned up in the atmosphere before impact but what was left hit with the force of 150 times the force of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. The blast ejected 175, 000 tons of dirt and rock and sent debris more than 100 miles away. All life within at least 25 miles both plant and animal was destroyed by the blast and searing shockwave that followed.

The first scientist to study the crater was Grove Karl Gilbert in 1891. He thought it was a volcanic crater. Daniel Barringer  a mining engineer was the first person to discover it was an impact crater and he then spent most of the rest of his life trying to prove it.

In 1960 Eugene Shoemaker proved it was an impact crater by the presence of coesite and stishovite, dense minerals that are only formed in the intense heat of an impact.

Today the impact site is a popular visitor attraction. Astronauts trained there for moon missions in the 1960’s and several movies including Starman and Damnation Alley were shot there.



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