Thursday, June 7, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 354

Craters of the Moon, Idaho, ca 1960s

The large blocks in the photograph on this postcard are called The Castles or sometimes Monoliths and were once part a large cinder cone.  The blurb on the back of the card states “When the liquid lava broke out of the crater, it carried with it sections of the crater wall . . . These light cinder blocks float on the heavy lava as icebergs float on the ocean.”  The card was distributed by Western Color Sales, Portland, Oregon and is labeled Plastichrome by ColourPicture Publishers, Inc., Boston, Mass.  It has two numbers on the reverse side, I-2101 at the lower left, and P33260 at the top center. 

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in the Snake River Plain, central Idaho between the towns of Arco and Carey.  This is about halfway between Boise and Yellowstone National Park.  The elevation is 5,900 feet or 1800 meters above sea level.  President Clinton expanded the Monument that was originally established in 1924 and portions of the expanded area were set-aside as Craters of the Moon National Preserve in 2002.  Both the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management manage the area.  In addition to the three major lava fields there are about 400 square miles of sagebrush steppe grasslands. 

Rifts as deep as 800 feet or 240 meters can be found in the lava fields.  Some of the features of the lava fields include examples of nearly every variety of basaltic lava, tree molds or holes left by the trees that were consumed by lava, and caves called lava tubes. 

Trappers, pioneers and cattlemen knew about the lava fields in the mid 1800s but general public awareness of the area was the result of newspaper and magazine articles written by Robert Limbert who explored in the 1920s after hearing about the strange landscape from trappers.

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