Many historic sites can be found in the Wendover and Utah west desert area. One of the most interesting is the old Wendover Airfield, which was used during the World War II era as an outpost adjacent to bombing and gunnery ranges.
In 1942, after the establishment of the "Manhattan Engineer District" for the purpose of developing an atomic bomb, the B-29 bomber was selected to deliver the weapon. Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr, was named to head a select development team and he chose Wendover Field, Utah, for training because of its isolation, the need for security, and the wide open spaces available for training.
Over time, the project resulted in the development of the "Little Boy" and the "Fat Man" bombs. The "Little Boy" was assembled and tested on Wendover Range. A Wendover unit also helped improve the assembly procedures and techniques for the "Fat Man."
Colonel Tibbets took off in the "Enola Gay" at 0245 on the morning of 6 August 1945, and Little Boy was dropped at 0915 over Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later the "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki.
A museum at Wendover Field preserves some of this history. A project is now underway to restore the Enola Gay hangar.
The airfield and museum are located on the southeast side of Wendover. Follow the main Wendover strip to the east side of town and turn south at the Shell gas station. Follow the signs to the airfield.
Pony Express Trail
The old Pony Express trail cuts across the Utah west desert, just south of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Much of the same route was also used by the Overland State. An improved dirt road follows the route. Ruins from and some Pony Express stations can be seen at intervals along the route. One station, at Simpson Springs, has been restored.
For more information, see our page on backcountry routes in the Wendover/West Desert area.
Danger Cave is an important archaeological site located about two miles east of Wendover. It has been excavated and studied extensively and provides clues to some of the earliest human habitations in the Western United States.
Nearby, Juke Box Cave also contains important archaeological information. Together, the caves provide evidence of nearly 11,000 years of occupation in the high desert.
There are no signs directing tourists to the caves. Bars were put over the cave entrances in 1998 to protect the archaeological resources inside from vandalism. Occasionally, members of the public are invited to educational activities at the caves.
Several other archaeological sites can be found in the area.
Mining and ranching have been important activities in this area for many years. Small mining communities have boomed and then gone bust. Relics from mining and ranching can be seen in many places throughout the area. Some mines still have open shafts that pose great danger to the unwary, so take care if you explore here.
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