Visit Date: September 22, 2014
This was another spot along Route 66 that I had researched during the planning stages for my “Goodbye God, I’m going to Texas” road trip. The crater is the result of a collision between an asteroid and the planet Earth some 50,000 years ago. I didn’t know what to expect for the $18 admission price, but when something is advertised as “the World’s best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth,” I just had to see for myself. Afterall, anything traveling 26,000 miles-per-hour is going to leave a mark when it hits.
A couple old black and white postcards from the Malakoff ephemera collection.
When I pulled into the parking area, I was astonished at the infrastructure of the place. This wasn’t a dinky little roadside attraction, this was pretty impressive. Some large, modern buildings house all the operations of Meteor Crater. Entrance lobby, ticket area, stairways/elevators up, theater, museum, a large gift shop, crater-viewing areas and a Subway restaurant where I had lunch!
As I was there to see the crater, up I went. To the top. There is an enclosed viewing area, air-conditioned and protected from the elements, as well as several platforms you can walk to in order to get a great view of the crater. It’s pretty impressive no matter where you see it from.
How it happened: 50,000 years ago, a giant fireball streaked across the skies of North America. At its core was a 300,000-ton, nickel iron meteorite traveling at about 26,000 miles-per-hour. When it hit the Earth, it exploded with the force of 2-1/2 million tons of TNT. Most of the meteorite was melted by the force of the impact while millions of tons of limestone and sandstone were blasted out of the crater. When things simmered down, a three-quarter mile wide and 750 foot deep crater was born.
The crater’s actual name is the Barringer Meteorite Crater. Daniel Moreau Barringer was one of the first to theorize that the crater was the result of a meteorite impact. The discovery, the mystery surrounding how it was created and the final scientific finding are quite interesting to read, click HERE to learn all the details.
A closer view of what's down in the bottom of the crater. A couple of deep mine shafts, both fenced in to keep silly people from falling or jumping in (that has happened). The metal thing over on the left is a boiler of some kind that power mining machinery back when it was thought the asteroid that created the crater was buried down there somewhere. There is a life-sized cardboard cutout of an astronaut at the right side of the square fence that surrounds the main shaft. That gives a pretty good perspective of how big this crater is.
After taking a number of photos of the crater, I headed back into the museum complex. There's a nice gift shop inside, where I bought a piece of petrified wood. A quick lunch at Subway and I was out the door and headed back to the parking lot. I had seen Meteor Crater, now I was going to see what I could find at Meteor City.