The Trestle, Kirtland Air Force Base


33 Responses to “The Trestle, Kirtland Air Force Base”

  1. Bart says:

    Kirkland AFB has all sorts of odd things like that dotting the landscape. Many of them are affiliated with Sandia National Lab, which sits on the base. Just driving around the base, there are no shortage of “wtf is that?” moments. Add to that, that several of the mountains on the base were hollowed out during the cold war for the storage of nuclear devices and its a peculiar place to visit. 

    It was also, interestingly enough, the very first place I saw an in car GPS system get blacked out. We were driving along and all of a sudden the map was gone and we were just an arrow on a grey field with no roads or landmarks.

    • dioptase says:

       Kirkland and Sandia are different facilities.  They are located next to each other.  Sandia is the larger of the two.

      Kirkland also borders the airport.  You can often get a good view of the trestle (and a lot of the other oddities out at Sandia) while taking off and landing.  The trestle is the closest, positioned for planes to taxi right to it from the runway taxiways (which are shared between Kirkland and Albuquerque airport.

      Driving around Sandia/Kirkland, there are a bunch of fun things.  Don’t drive too close to 4 Hills.  That is where they store nuclear warheads.  It’s surrounded by several fences and minefields.  Drive past a certain line on the road there, and they shoot you.  Literally shoot first, ask questions later.

      Take a a turn and you go past huge centrifuges, nuclear blast simulators, rocket test tracks, and a whole lot of desert.

      • awjt says:

        Where on Google maps is 4 hills?  Where’s the line?

      • Bart says:

        I was doing some work at Sandia, but had to process through the Kirkland gate to get to the Sandia buildings I was working in. Once on base, I let people who worked there full time drive me around (no need getting shot for asking where they keep the nuclear wessils.) Once you got away from the main groups of buildings, it wasn’t clear (to me as a civilian) what was Sandia and what was Kirkland other than there were some really weird/ cool looking buildings that no one in the car seemed to know what they did. The Tressel is the one that sticks in my mind.
        We did drive out fairly close to 4 hills one day because there was a cafe that the Sandia guys liked out there somewhere. (Plus they liked freaking out the civilian). 

  2. ack154 says:

    Does anyone have a link to a good hi-res gallery of this thing?

  3. Richard Pusateri says:

    We must not allow a The Trestle Gap!

  4. jaypee says:

    Here’s the Wikipedia article for the test:

    • Mark Dow says:

      “The Marx generator providing the EMP pulse generated 200 gigawatts of electromagnetic flux at an electrical potential of 10 megavolts.”

  5. itsgene says:

    Does anyone have a translator for their impenetrable website? Gah.

    • winkybb says:

      Yes. What a POS. Evidently, not a design studio one should ever consider using if one wanted the outcome to be a design that actually worked. I think that there is irony in abundance here.

  6. Ito Kagehisa says:

    If (like me) you instantly thought, “Hey, Great Horned Owls hoot, they don’t screech!” you should check out the cry of their young -

  7. Faring says:

    Too expensive to dismantle? I know the military budget gets tighter all the time, but we’re talking 50 year old wood in a desert here. How much does a gallon of kerosene and a match cost?

  8. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    “Mark Pilkington”?  Does he have a brother Karl by any chance?

  9. Jonathan Carpenter says:

    There is a movie about Trestle here

  10. billstewart says:

    Some of my coworkers at Bell Labs used to take equipment there to test its EMP resistance.  There’d been an event in the 60s when a long haul copper cable got taken out by a solar flare, which was the origin of a lot of the testing and a lot of really interesting physics.  Back when phone switches were electromechanical, it usually didn’t take too much work to make them EMP-tolerant (some capacitors to prevent relays from getting fried, etc.)  The newer electronic switching systems that came out in the 70s and especially 80s are a lot more sensitive – ICs as opposed to transistors or relays, etc.  On the other hand, these days the phone network is connected together by fiber optics instead of copper cables and microwave towers, so the long-haul networks are a lot less vulnerable than the endpoints. 

  11. trackofalljades says:

    …on a related note, what is this crazy thing nearby?

    • Scatter says:

      Looks like a small concentrated solar power installation

      [apologies if this appears for a second time, tried to post and it didn't appear...]

    • Shaun Thompson says:

      Thats the tower of power. It is, as the previous reply stated, a concentrated solar installation. On clear days you can see the top of the tower lit up. I haven’t been out there for years but they used to have slabs of steel sitting outside that they melted through using this concentrator.

  12. Bob Faull says:

    Minor correction: the Coney Island Cyclone is mostly steel.  The rails are on a wood bed and it’s therefore considered a wood coaster, but the support structure is mostly (if not all) steel.

  13. Calton says:

    “the Trestle is still the largest all-wooden structure in the world”

    Sez who? The blimp hangar in Tillamook, Oregon or the Todai-ji temple in Nara, Japan don’t count?

    • GrumpySteen says:

      The temple is quite a bit smaller (170′ x 190′ x 154′) than the trestle (1000′ x 600′ x 200′).  You could stack four of the temples just in space of the large platform the planes sit on.

      The hangar takes up a similar amount of land space (1000′ x 254′) but is only one third as tall, plus it is made with metal components (nails, nuts, bolts, shear plates, etc.).  The Trestle’s nuts and bolts and other hardware are made of wood.

  14. dukecity says:

    BTW early posters, it’s spelled Kirtland, not Kirkland. (Not lost in a Star Trek haze, I hope?) Anyone taking off in daylight from the adjacent Albuquerque airport (“Sunport” in CofC talk) can see it as your plane ascends Eastward. 

Leave a Reply