The Trestle (or more formally the Air Force Weapons Lab Transmission-Line Aircraft Simulator) is a unique structure built by the US government in the Albuquerque desert and which was used to test aircraft’s resilience against the electromagnetic pulses created by nuclear weapons.
The Trestle is three hundred metres long and nearly two hundred metres tall and made entirely from wood and glue. The presence of any metal would distort readings from EMP testing and therefore The Trestle does not even use metal nails or braces. It was built from more than fifteen thousand cubic metres of Douglas Fir and Southern Yellow Pine and was strong enough to support the weight of a fully loaded two hundred tonne B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber.
The Trestle was equipped with a two hundred gigawatt, ten megavolt Marx generator and was used to test bomber, fighter and transport aircraft and even long-range missiles. The Trestle programme was shut down in 1991 when computer simulations became good enough to simulate the effects of EMPs and the dried-out, creosote-soaked wood now poses a serious fire hazard.
Efforts are being made to have the Trestle site declared a National Historic Landmark, but these efforts are being hampered by the fact that The Trestle is located on Kirtland Air Force Base. Kirtland houses a number of Top Secret units such as the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Centre, the 498th Nuclear Systems Wing and the Air Force Research Laboratory and therefore access to the site is highly restricted.