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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Near Afton Canyon - "marked with cement arrows, painted yellow"

We stopped in Barstow for fuel after driving on flooded roads and working our way around a couple of detours created by the rain of the previous 24 hours.
 It was close to midnight when we set up camp at the Afton Canyon Campground.
We awoke to a cloudy damp dawn.
 We weren't headed that way on this trip but I walked over to the Mojave Road to check out the river crossing. About 25 years ago I was fording the Mojave River at this location with some friends when a scary event occurred. Most people know that when fording deep water the driver needs to drive slow enough that water doesn't flow over the hood and into the vehicle's intake. But we also observed that the driver needs to drive fast enough to arrive just behind the vehicle's bow wave. One of the vehicles drove too slow and the bow wave reached the other side and then surged back toward the Jeep. The bow wave swamped the vehicle but luckily did not hydro-lock the engine. The driver of the Jeep managed to accomplish that trick 15 years later. His vehicle now sports a snorkel.
A look back at our site in the campground.
 Bosco under the Union Pacific Railroad bridge that spans the Mojave River at the Western end of Afton Canyon.
 Moments later a train rumbled past.
 The train headed West while Bosco and I walked back to camp.
 Jan had breakfast waiting when we returned to camp.
  Cave Mountain to the East. After taking this photo we broke camp.
 Looking back at the Afton Canyon RR Bridge. It was built in 1938 and replaced the bridge that was destroyed by the flooding from the massive rainfall in Southern California during February and March of that year.
 Then it was on to our next stop where I crawled under a fence and started hiking into the hills.
 My objective was high atop the hill on the left.
In or around 1925, an air mail route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City was established. By the end of the decade the route had been marked with cement arrows (painted yellow) and beacon towers for navigation at night. The distance between arrows was about 15 to 20 miles and the pilots flew from one beacon to the next. Years ago I stumbled upon one of these arrows and found these forgotten pieces of aeronautical history very poignant.
 (Found this diagram on the internet years ago and can not recall who to credit.)
The beacons were decommissioned in the 1940s after the development of radio beacons, better radios and radar. Most of the steel towers were torn down during WWII.
 This Thermos Bottle has been at the site for a long time.
 Initials in the concrete. "Who was RP?"
 The remains of the steel tower legs still protrude from the foundation. There isn't a road to this site which means the builders probably used mules to transport materials.
 A chisel that has probably been at this site since the tower was dismantled in the 1940's.
 One last look before leaving. (I should have brought a register to leave at the site.)
We drove on to Baker for lunch and fuel.

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