This is Cima. A junction on two highways through the preserve and a Union Pacific railhead. The building used to be the post office, grocery store and eatery. It is now closed.
Down the road is a much nicer place on the Union Pacific line. This is the Kelso Depot Visitor Center. The structure was built in 1923 and operated until 1986. The railroad was going to demolish the building, but public outcry saved it. The NPS re-opened it for business in 2005. Those palms are the originals planted in 1923. The railroad had a five steam engine roundhouse located here since water was available, and it was the beginning of the long and relatively steep Cima grade. Helper steam engines were required to push the loaded trains up the grade. A LOT of men and material passed through here during WWII. The arrival of diesel locomotives in the 50s and 60s ended the roundhouse days.
Turning north from Kelso on the Kelbaker Road will take you back to Baker in 34 miles, but not before passing through the Cinder Cone Lava Beds. There are 52 well preserved cinder cones in this area of the preserve, with eruptions as recent as 10,000 years ago. I read a brief account of two people resupplying at Kelso and walking to Baker in twelve hours, in 1936 before the road was built. The sun is just relentless out here.
You can turn off the Kelbaker Road onto the sandy Aiken Mine Road for a closer look.
Yep, a big pile of cinders with a wall of lava.
This is looking northwest towards Baker.
Off the Aiken road is a lava tube, this is a poor shot of a portion of the collasped top.
An intrepid lava tube hunter getting ready to descend.
The tube. Not nearly as impressive as the tubes on the Big Island of Hawaii.
If we had a flashlight, we might have tried it.
A view of the parking area with a couple of A-frame campers. This side of the preserve is much warmer than where we were located.
Another shot towards Baker from high terrain. You can see a hint of Soda Lake.
We shifted into 4-wheel drive to climb this steep and rough grade. It is a heck of alot less bumpy in 4 Low.
Here it is, the Aiken Cinder Mine. Just an operation digging out cinders so that you can have pretty rock along your walkway. Check out the link.
Another sunset, hey, I think this is the same picture from the other day ;)