Legacy of the Manhattan Project; New Mexico, April 5-11, 2018 GPS Map

Many thanks to Charlotte Kubicz of International Seminar Design, Inc. No one could have led the trip better than her!

Thanks to Mike Davis, our bus driver from El Paso, for getting us everywhere safely. Mike wore a cowboy hat that always reminded us we have the best.

I’m so glad I went!


group
M.I.T. alumni at the Spy House in Albuquerque.

Fairfield Inn and Suites. Alamogordo, Thursday, April 5

Thanks to my daughter Beatrix for taking me to the Phoenix airport.

We flew over east Mesa, the Superstition Mountains, and Globe. Then it clouded up. The sky cleared over Safford. We followed I-10 for a while, then followed the railroad tracks on in to El Paso after crossing the Rio Grande. See A Southern Transcontinental Railroad into California: Texas and Pacific versus Southern Pacific, 1865-1885 by Lewis B. Lesley.

The drive from the El Paso Airport to Alamogordo is uninspiring—miles of desolation along highway 54, with dust kicked up by Army trucks from Fort Bliss on dirt roads nearby. In the evening we heard a lecture by Peter Eidenbach before going to dinner. Peter talked about the history of the area, missiles at White Sands, and the first atomic bomb test in 1945.


airport
The El Paso Airport is a busy place.
Charlotte
M.I.T. alumni, assemble here.

Fairfield Inn and Suites. Alamogordo, Friday, April 6

The white sand is gypsum. Rain washed crystals down from the mountains eons ago, forming the White Sands National Monument. We walked on a boardwalk over the sand, with light vegetation in this part of the park.

Our next stop was military: the White Sands Missile Range. They have an amazing display of rockets tested there, including a German V-2 from the second world war. At the end of the war the German scientists who were working on the V-2 surrendered to the Americans to keep from being captured by the Russians. The Americans removed all the parts of V-2 rockets and sent them, along with the German scientists, to the White Sands Proving Ground.

Our third stop was the Space History Museum in Alamogordo. We got a guided tour by a fellow who had worked on the space program and sure knew a lot.


yuccas
Vegetation is sparse at White Sands National Monument.
yucca
Soaptree Yucca.
Ted
End of the boardwalk
alumni
Alumni make their way.
tracks
A roadrunner was here.
beetle
Black beetle crawls across the white sand.


mountains
Organ Mountains rise above the White Sands Missile Range.
V-2
The V-2 rockets once had a black and yellow color scheme.
WAC
WAC Corporal.
model
They’ve used model airplanes as targets.
alumni
White Sands Proving Ground was re-named as the White Sands Missile Range.
missiles
Some of the missile types tested here.
saucer
A real flying saucer.
Patriot
You wouldn’t want to be a Scud.
Patriot
Patriot surface-to-air missile.
alumni
Alumni inspect various kinds of missiles.
alumni
White Sands isn’t near any coast.

Atlas
There’s an Atlas missile outside the Space History Museum in Alamogordo.
Sputnik
Sputnik was launched on October 4, 1957.  The shot heard around the world.

Hotel Andaluz, Albuquerque, Saturday, April 7

They say the atomic bomb saved lives, by making an invasion of Japan unnecessary. Millions would have been killed in the invasion, possibly led by General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell. We got to see Trinity Site, home of the first atomic bomb test and the only one in New Mexico. They chose the site well, on the north end of the Jornado del Muerto (Dead Man’s March), a remote and desolate place in the United States.

It was estimated that the Soviet Union would have the atom bomb by 1960. They had it in 1949. It was the work of spies, so we visited the Spy House in Albuquerque. The Spy House is now owned by a family, who also own the next two houses.


signs
Trinity Site?  It’s that-a-way.
oblisk
This is where it happened, on July 16, 1945.
obelisk
They picked up the Trinitite, filled the hole, and replaced the original tower with an obelisk.
bomb
Mock-up of the bomb that was tested.
yyy yyy
Trinitite.
Jumbo
Jumbo wasn’t needed after all.
house
The McDonald Ranch House has been restored.
barn
This building on the ranch didn’t fare so well.

Spy
Espionage happened right here at the Spy House.
alumni
M.I.T. Alumni outside the Spy House.

Hotel Andaluz, Albuquerque, Sunday, April 8

Are we alone in the universe? If not, scientists using the Very Large Array might find intelligent life by receiving artificial signals from an advanced civilization somewhere out there, as in the movie Contact. Either way, the VLA will be instrumental in many amazing discoveries. None of the scientific discoveries actually made were the ones in research proposals.

An array of big antennas, synchronized and moved on dual railroad tracks, serves as one gigantic antenna. Signals from even more antennas, all around the world, are recorded and synchronized using an atomic clock for highest resolution. The transporters which move the antennas are able to make a 90° turn by lifting a pair of wheels, one side at a time, and rotating them 90 degrees. The antenna is then anchored to concrete supports.

On the way we saw a sign for historic Route 66. It once went through Santa Fe then south of Albuquerque. When I first saw Albuquerque in 1961, there weren’t any interstate highways and 66 went right through the middle of the city on Central Avenue.


dish
The dishes are arrayed in three rows, each 13 miles long.
tracks
Dual railroad tracks are used to move the antennas.  Then the antennas are bolted to concrete supports.
tracks
The transporters can make a 90° turn on the tracks.
alumni
Alumni hear all about the VLA.
boxes
If a control box is good, it has a green tag.

La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, Monday, April 9

Our first stop was the Nuclear Science & History museum in Albuquerque. They have an outdoor exhibit of planes that carried nuclear bombs, and many indoor exhibits of equipment, science, and history. The jet bombers have chicken wire over the places where birds aren’t supposed to fly in.

Our ride to Santa Fe was on historic and highly scenic New Mexico highway 14, with narration of important things that happened there.

After lunch we got a walking tour of Santa Fe, starting at the new state capitol built in 1966. When I first came to Santa Fe in 1960 the old building was still in use. We saw the Palace of the Governors, now a Native American marketplace. Our guide took us all around central Santa Fe, pointing out sights and telling us the history. La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (shortened to Santa Fe) was a capital before English settlers landed at Plymouth Rock.


B-29
A B-29 was the first plane to drop an atomic bomb.
Ted
With eight jet engines, a B-52 sure makes a lot of noise taking off.
controls
Ensuring U.S. Nuclear Weapons are Safe and Secure.
Ted
Ted and Einstein.
car
1940s Plymouth.

white pink
Springtime in Santa Fe.
seal
Great seal of the state of New Mexico at the state capitol.
church
San Miguel Church, oldest in the United States.
Mary
St. Mary is equipped with a lightning rod at Loretto Chapel.
sign
Highway 66 once went through Santa Fe.
Lamy
You should read Lamy of Santa Fe, by Paul Horgan.
alumni
This is a monument honoring our Civil War veterans.

La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, Tuesday, April 10

Our first stop was a scenic overlook along highway 502 on the way to Los Alamos. There were several arches in a rock formation above us, but you couldn’t see them from the bus. So I walked back and then ahead to see them. Saw another arch on our way back to Santa Fe.

We got a walking tour of Los Alamos. Highlights included the Fuller Lodge, the Los Alamos Historical Museum, and Hans Bethe’s house. The house is on Bathtub Row, a prestigious street since the 1940s.

After lunch we went to the Bradbury Science Museum and heard two excellent talks about Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project. They had refreshments for us, but after lunch and dessert we didn’t want more. Then we got a bus tour along the edge of the Laboratory, with strict instructions not to take any pictures. I sure didn’t.


arches
Arches in the rock formation overlooking New Mexico highway 502.
rocks
When these rocks tumbled I was somewhere else.
arch
Another arch overlooking the highway.


alumni
Los Alamos was originally a site for the Manhattan Project.
museum
Los Alamos Historical Museum.
pink yellow
Springtime in Los Alamos.
site
Walking by an Ancestral Pueblo Site.
Bethe
Hans Bethe’s house is now part of the museum.

Mesa, Arizona, Wednesday, April 11

My flight from Albuquerque to Phoenix was short and uneventful.
Thanks to my daughter Clara for meeting me at the Phoenix airport. We had lunch on the way home.


  Arizona Hike Pictures updated April 13, 2018