NOTS China Lake, California

US Route 395 will always be one of America's finest scenic highways. Though it's a few years older than I, this corridor was on my route to college the first time, in early September, 1957. And fifty-odd-years later that first drive from Carson City past Ridgecrest to Boron remains vivid in memory.
Topaz Lake
... River
Tioga Pass
Big Pine
Lone Pine
Mammoth Lakes
Mono Lake
Mount Whitney

Goose Lake
Eagle Lake

US Highway 395 once extended to downtown San Diego.

The Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track (SNORT). A facility in which rocket-powered sleds scream down a test track at up to Mach 4.
SNORT is a 21,550 foot (4.08 mile)long two rail heavy duty precision track. The track is made up of 50 foot lengths of 171 lb/yd crane rail laid at standard gauge. Beging at 11,475 feet the trough in the center of the track functions as a water brake extending 10,075 feet to the end of the track.
In over 50 years, SNORT has logged more than 9,000 track test runs.

Except for about #### miles above Mono Lake, and a few more miles by Mammoth Lakes, US 395 is a well-maintained two-lane highway. Traffic is light, and the flow is as swift as you care to make it.
The entire route is through a kaleidoscope life zones, well-stocked rivers, streams and lakes, Angus beef pastures, Sierra palisades, arid Mojave desert, and just about every kind of terrain in between.
Just ### miles due east of Lone Pine, itself perched aside the Owens Valley at ### elevation, lie one of California's most precious gems: the Palisades and Palisade Glacier--the southernmost such ice pack in North America.
On a fine afternoon in late May 1961, I met Johnny Desmond at the Glacier Lodge trailhead (###-ft), both of us smack on-time, and we two began a week-long trek into this untouched high Sierra wilderness.

In 1926, US 395 was a spur of U.S. Route 195. It started in Spokane and ran northwest to British Columbia.[1] As a result, it never intersected its parent, U.S. Route 95; US 195 always provided the connection. US 395 developed into a parallel of its parent route when it was extended south in the 1930s.
US-395 begins in the Mojave Desert community of Hesperia at the junction with Interstate 15.

The highway proceeds north across the Mojave Desert crossing Route 58 at Kramer Junction just east of the town of Boron.

Several large solar generating fields are sited at Kramer Junction.

The highway continues north until merging with Route 14, which formerly was the south end of a concurrent run with U.S. Route 6.

From here to Bishop the highway follows the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

For most of this run the highway is also routed through the Owens Valley.

After Bishop the scenery dramatically changes as the highway ascends the Sierra Nevada, serving the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes, California and Mammoth Mountain as well as Mono Lake and June Lake.
The highway exits California at Topaz Lake to serve the Reno, Nevada metropolitan area.The highway returns to California just north of Reno. This northern piece also follows the Sierra Nevada.

It passes through the towns of Susanville and Alturas, also serves several points of interest along this portion, such as the Hallelujah Junction, Honey Lake, and the Modoc Plateau.
395 in Nevada is a major highway, the majority of which is now or is scheduled to be upgraded to Interstate Highway standards. The portion from Carson City to Reno is also designated as Interstate 580 but is not signed as such, except on mile markers (US 395 mileposts can be seen alongside Virginia Street from Lemmon Valley to Mount Rose Highway).

The highway follows the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada from state line to state line.
U.S. 395 enters Nevada at Topaz Lake then descends to Carson Valley where it becomes the main streets ofGardnerville, Minden and Carson City.

In Reno the highway is designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway. The highway returns to California just north of Reno at Bordertown.
US 395 enters Oregon at New Pine Creek, then heads north to Lakeview.

At Lakeview, it overlaps Oregon Route 140 for five miles (8 km), then continues north to Valley Falls.
Burns. Approximately two miles northeast of Burns, US 395 turns north through
to the Washington state line at the Columbia River.
US-395 enters Washington with I-82 over the Columbia River.

Outside of Pasco, US 395 crosses through farmland and little towns until it combines with I-90 at the town of Ritzville.

From there it goes to Spokane
US-395 then proceeds north through the towns of Deer Park, Clayton, Chewelah, Colville and Kettle Falls to the Canadian border.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake or NAWS China Lake
(ICAO: KNID, FAA LID: NID) is an airborne weapons testing and training range operated by the United States Navy and its contractors. It is located in the northeast of California's Mojave Desert in northwestern San Bernardino County, southwestern Inyo County, and northeastern Kern County, adjacent to Ridgecrest, California.
NAWS China Lake was known as a technology leader in soldering technology, thanks to its full-spectrum weapon systems development programs. The technology was transferred to industry through its soldering technology seminars and soldering training programs at the DOD Electronics Manufacturing Productivity Facility.
The main airfield, Armitage Field, is situated several miles from China Lake itself, an endorheic basin from which the range takes its name.[3] It is the home base of 16 tenant commands, including the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9), Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Thirty One (VX-31), and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Training Detachment.

NAWS China Lake is the US Navy's largest single holding of land, comprising 1.1 million acres (4500 km²), approximately 38% of the US Navy's total land holdings in the world, and the airspace controlled jointly by NAWS China Lake, Edwards Air Force Base and Fort Irwin is the largest in the Department of Defense known as the R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex. In addition China Lake has maintained research components in both physics and chemistry at Lauritsen and Michelson laboratories.
According to the California State Military Museum Web site, the land, ranging in altitude from 2,100 to 8,900 feet (640 to 2,700 m), varies from flat dry lake beds to rugged piñon pine-covered mountains.[4] The majority of the land is undeveloped and provides habitat for more than 340 species of wildlife and 650 plant types.
In June 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited NAWS China Lake for an air show and to see Michelson Lab. Richard William Rusciolelli (father of comedian Dante) was President Kennedy's technical presentations coordinator and protocol officer for the visit.
Geographical history
The area was once also home to the Native American Coso People, whose presence here is marked by thousands of archaeological sites; the Coso traded with other tribes as far away as San Luis Obispo County, California. This locale was also a site used by European miners and settlers whose cabins and mining structures are extant throughout the Station. Among the notable archaeological sites is the National Park Service's Coso Rock Art District, an area of some 99 square miles (260 km2) which contains more than 50,000 documented petroglyphs.[5]
The rock art district was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001.[6]
Historically rich, NAWS traces its heritage to the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) established at nearby Inyokern in 1943 as a joint navy/civilian facility, and the first civilian director was L.T.E. Thompson ("Dr. Tommy"). Since then it has been one of the US Navy's premier weapons development facilities and continues to support the US fleet. A number of preserved B-29 bombers in museums were reclaimed from target airframes stored on the ranges here in the 1950s.
Inventions tested and refined at China Lake include the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, the AGM-62 Walleye TV-guided glide bomb, the AGM-45 Shrike antiradar missile, the AIM-95 Agile missile, the AGM-122 Sidearm antiradar missile, the AGM-123 Skipper II laser-guided missile, the lightstick, and the continuous-rod warhead.
One of the world's largest geothermal power plants is located at China Lake at the Coso Geothermal Field. The installation currently produces 270 megawatt-hours (970 GJ) from four geothermal power plants. 166 wells have been drilled throughout the field, with production depths from 2,000 to 12,000 feet (610 to 3,700 m), and temperatures from 200 °C (392 °F) to 350 °C (662 °F). Coso began generating electricity in 1987.
On or near the base is the Naval Museum of Armament & Technology, which is one of fifteen official U.S. Navy museums.
Weapons developed at China Lake
AIM-9 Sidewinder
BOAR (rocket)
China Lake Grenade Launcher
Gimlet (rocket)
Holy Moses (rocket)
Hopi (missile)
Ram (rocket)
Tiny Tim (rocket)
Test firing of 30.5-Inch Bombardment Aircraft Rocket (BOAR), sans warhead, 1955; one of the earliest rockets designed to carry a nuclear warhead (Mk 7), BOAR was developed by NOTS as an interim weapon with a planned service use of 3 years, but the 30.5-Inch Rocket Mk 1 was deployed in 1956 and remained in the Fleet until 1963.
NOTS BOAR (30.5" Rocket MK 1)
In the early 1950s, the U.S. Navy wanted to make all its attack aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons from low altitude, especially against ships.

To give low-level attackers a limited stand-off range, the Navy used a so-called "loft bombing" technique. The aircraft would go into a climb, release the bomb at an appropriate point to send it on a high arching trajectory, and complete a half loop for a quick escape.

In addition to avoiding flying directly over the target's air defenses, it provided valuable extra time to escape the blast of a nuclear explosion. However, the stand-off range and escape times were still very tight, especially for the slow piston-engined AD Skyraider aircraft.

To provide a suitable stand-off weapon, the NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station) at China Lake began to develop a simple rocket-boosted nuclear bomb in 1952. This device was called BOAR (Bombardment Aircraft Rocket, sometimes also read as Bureau of Ordnance Atomic Rocket), and officially designated 30.5-Inch Rocket, MK 1 MOD 0.

The BOAR was first flight tested in June 1953, was approved for production in 1955 and entered opertional service in 1956.
Photo: U.S. Navy (via Gary Verver collection)
BOAR (30.5" Rocket MK 1 MOD 0)
The BOAR was powered by a solid-propellant rocket motor and armed with a W-7 nuclear fission warhead (20 kT). It was released from the aircraft in a steep climb (to maximize its range), and the motor ignited shortly after. The rocket had a maximum range of about 12 km (7.5 miles).
Photo: U.S. Navy
BOAR (30.5" Rocket MK 1 MOD 0)
The primary delivery platform for the BOAR was the AD Skyraider. BOAR was originally intended as an interim weapon, to be in service for a only few years until more advanced tactical missiles would be ready. However, the Navy never fielded another nuclear-armed air-to-surface standoff missile, and so the BOAR remained in service until 1963, when it was retired because of maintenance problems with the rocket motor. A total of about 225 BOARs were produced.
Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!
Data for 30.5" Rocket MK 1 MOD 0:
Length 4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)
Finspan 1.37 m (54 in)
Diameter 77.5 cm (30.5 in)
Weight 900 kg (2000 lb)
Speed 770 km/h (480 mph)
Range 12 km (7.5 miles)
Propulsion NOTS solid-fueled rocket; 67 kN (15000 lb) for 3 s
Warhead W-7 nuclear fission (20 kT)
Main S
The Hopi medium-range air-to-surface missile was designed by the NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station) at China Lake. It was flight-tested in 1958, but was cancelled in December that year. It was powered by a rocket engine, and was to be armed with a W-50 thermonuclear warhead (60-400 kT). No additional information, e.g. about the results of the flight tests, the planned mode of operation and the guidance system (or if it was guided at all!), is available.
Photos: U.S. Navy (via Gary Verver collection)
Designation Note: The Hopi's mission and time frame make it a good candidate for the ASM-N-9 missile designation, which is as yet unaccounted for (see page on Missing Numbers in pre-1963 Missile Designation Listings).
No information on the exact characteristics of Hopi is available.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, high desert home of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, where the Navy and Marine Corps have developed or tested nearly every significant airborne weapon system in the past five decades. China Lake is located 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles on the western edge of California's Mojave Desert. If you are arriving by air, you may fly from Los Angeles International Airport to the Inyokern Airport, about 10 miles from the main gate. There is no public transportation between the airport and China Lake.
Mission: The men and women of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake are assigned the mission of operating and maintaining base facilities and providing base support services, including airfields, for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, assigned tenants and activities and transient units. China Lake supports the primary research and development, test and evaluation work for air warfare and missile weapons systems. Missiles such as Sidewinder, Shrike and Walleye are just a few of the many products at China Lake which have been developed for the fleet.
History: In the midst of World War II, adequate facilities were needed for test and evaluation of rockets being developed for the Navy by the California Institutes of Technology (Cal Tech). At the same time, the Navy needed a new proving ground for all aviation ordnance. CalTech's Dr. Charles C. Lauritsen and then Cdr. Sherman E. Burroughs met and formed a pact to find a site meeting both their needs.
In the summer of 1943, while searching for the needed site, Dr. Lauritsen, in a small plane flown by Cdr. Jack Renard spotted a two-way landing strip near Inyokern. It was in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but empty desert for miles around, but not too far removed from CalTech's Pasadena base.
The Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) was established on November 8, 1943 and its mission defined in a letter by the Secretary of the Navy, "...a station having for its primary function the research, development and testing of weapons, and having additional function of furnishing primary training in the use of such weapons."
Testing began at China Lake within a month of the Station's formal establishment. The vast sparsely populated desert around China Lake and Inyokern, with near perfect flying weather and practically unlimited visibility, proved and ideal location not only for T&E activities, but also for a complete R&D establishment. The early Navy-CalTech partnership established a pattern of cooperation and interaction between civilian scientists and engineers and experienced military personnel that, in the ensuing five decades, has made China lake one of the preeminent RDT&E institutions in the world.
In the years following WW II, China Lake projects included development of the famed Sidewinder air-to-air missile, the Shrike anti-radiation missile, the Zuni rocket, a series of aircraft rockets, an entire family of free fall weapons, torpedoes and the TV-guided Walleye glide bomb. Additionally, the Polaris missile concepts were developed by NOTS weapons-planning teams, and the first submarine-launched ballistic missile motors were tested at China Lake.
In July 1967, NOTS China lake and the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Corona, Calif., became the Naval Weapons Center. The Corona facilities were closed and their functions transferred to China lake in 1971. In July 1979, the mission and functions of the National Parachute Test Range in El Centro were transferred to China Lake.
In January 1992, the Naval Weapons Center China Lake and the Pacific Missile Test Center Point Mugu were disestablished and combined as a single command, the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWPNS). Each of the two major sites of NAWCWPNS is designated a Naval Air Weapons Station and is a NAWCWPNS host, performing the base-keeping functions.
The NAWCWPNS tenants at NAWS China Lake are today involved in programs that range from the Tomahawk Cruise Missile to the new Joint Stand-Off Weapons System (JSWO) and from the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) to the new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Today, as part of the Naval Air Systems Command and the Naval Aviation Systems Team, NAWCWPNS and NAWS China Lake are, along with the entire team, have evolved into a "Competency Aligned Organization, comprising various Integrated Program Teams." The work force is aligned into eight major competency or skills area (Program Management, Contracts, Logistics, Engineering & Research, Test & Evaluation, Industrial, Corporate Operations and Shore Station Management).

Nestled in the quiet Indian Wells Valley at the south eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, China Lake is the premier land range and weapons development laboratory for the Department of the Navy (DoN). Roughly two and a half hours north of Los Angeles, China Lake is within easy driving distance of Southern California's most beautiful country. The Weapons Division at China Lake is hosted by the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS).

The Indian Wells Valley is south of two prominent geologic extremes in the continental United States, Mount Whitney, the highest point (14,497 ft. above sea level) and Badwater, the lowest point (282 ft. below Sea level). The country around China Lake is rich in outdoor recreation activities, including; white water river rafting, sailing, skiing, hiking, rock climbing, fishing and hunting.
The City of Ridgecrest is just minutes from the China Lake gates. As the third largest city in Kern County, Ridgecrest offers all of the amenities of comfortable living. A wide variety of affordable housing, a unified school district, a community college and all of your shopping needs are among the things that are available in Ridgecrest without the hassles of the big city.
China Lake is steeped in Naval History. In the summer of 1943 Dr. Charles C. Lauritsen of the California Institute of Technology, and Navy Commander Jack Renard, flew a small plane over the vast Mojave Desert in search of the perfect remote location to establish a "shooting range" for testing Navy missiles. They eventually spotted a small two-way landing strip in Inyokern. The site was extremely remote, but not too far removed from Cal Tech's Pasadena base. Shortly afterwards, the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) was born.

You know your in Ridgecrest When . .

You no longer associate bridges (or lakes) with water.
You can say 115 degrees without fainting.
You can make instant sun tea.
You really CAN fry an egg on the sidewalk.
You give up dusting daily and just shovel out once a week.
You would NEVER think of sitting on a leather couch in shorts.
You see someone driving a black car and KNOW that they're a tourist.
You learn that a seat belt makes a pretty good branding iron.
The temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.
You discover that in July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car.
You discover that you can get a sunburn through your car window.
You notice the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
Hot water now comes out of both taps.
It's noon in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one person is out on the streets.
You actually burn your hand opening the car door.
You break a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m. before work.
No one would dream of putting vinyl upholstery in a car or not having air conditioning.
Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
The birds have to use pot holders to pull worms out of the ground.
The potatoes cook underground, and all you have to do to have lunch is to pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.
Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
The cows are giving evaporated milk.
The trees are whistling for the dogs.
A sad resident once prayed, "I wish it would rain not so much for me, cuz I've seen it-but for my 7-year-old."

NAWS China Lake is located in the Western Mojave Desert region of California, approximately 150 miles north of Los Angeles. The installation is the Navy's largest single landholding, representing 85 percent of the Navy’s land for RDAT&E use and 38 percent of the Navy’s land holdings worldwide. In total, its two ranges and main site cover more than 1.1 million acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Every town has had its drive-in theater. Ridgecrest was no exception and for years it was THE place for everyone to greet and meet their friends and neighbors. It created a very casual social atmosphere and many could be observed outside their cars talking and interacting.
I have been reminded to say that there was a playground here too. Many young folk spent time on the swings and other playground equipment before the movie and at breaks between movies.
The popcorn was good, the cokes were good the social atmosphere was festive.
It was fun to gather in the back in "Makeout Row" and . . . . . . see who was with who!!

I loved that drive in out on Inyokern road!! Many good times were had there. They just closed down our very last drive-in here.
Big bummer!
Yes it's sad that all the good things are disappearing and no one knows their neighbors anymore. I guess I've been lucky because I know mine. When I was growing up in RC. everyone knew who you where and what you were up to. I remember one summer Lolly and I where walking down the outside hall ways at James Monroe and Mr. Lineback, the principle at that time, saw us smoking. Girl friend our parents knew about it before we could put the damn things out. Western Union didn't hold a candle to the communication system in RC. later Jerry
Yes it is sad about the drive-ins I just talked to my girl friend in 29 Palms Ca. and Smith Ranch is still kicking for now. We need good healthy fun for the next generation and I don't know what it's going to be. I see your in Clearwater Fl. . My husbands parents live in Winter Haven and we go see them occasionly, I think it's it little hotter there than here.
The drive-in was fun....They tore down the last one here in Santa Barbara area about 5 years ago, but not before my daughter also got a taste of some good times. That is the only way she wanted to see a movie, theaters were too noisy for her...

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Desert Denizens

Desert Denizens

I was one of those kids who grew up with the Ridgecrest Drive In. I broke my wrist in A fight with my best friend, Glen Fortune. Afterwards , he drove me in my car to the hospital. Many good times were had there and I remember Big Mike very well.He didn't smile much but he was A real nice guy and gave quite A few of us breaks after catching us trying to sneek in when we didn't have money to get in. He even let us stay once. What always puzzled me was how A projectionist could afford to drive A Rolls Royce. It was always parked next to the east side of the snack bar. I do believe there is still A drive in on the east side of Barstow off the old Hwy. 58.
Randy Reid 1969
Ok, there was "make out row", but what I remember about the drive-in is my parents taking me there and the playground that was right in front of the gathered there before and even during the was a wonderful time.
Linda (Misfeldt) Avallone (1975)

Wednesday nights, car load nights at the Drive-In, always a fun time!