Visiting the Alamogordo Museum of History, in scenic Alamogordo, New Mexico, is like being able to stop into history. Guests will learn about the local community’s contributions, which includes the physical (like pottery) as well as historical figures that have served in the cabinets of multiple presidents.
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The historical society was founded in 1964 as a non-for-profit agency with a mission of helping create a greater love and appreciation for the history of the city as well as the entire Tularosa Basin. Although the entire historical society was nearly dissolved in 1997, it pulled through after bringing in new, passionate volunteers. There are now 200 members, which includes 35 volunteers dedicated to continuing the mission of the museum (those volunteers have clocked more than 5000 hours combined). The volunteers help run workshops, act as docents/tour guides, help process archival research, and process photographs. The museum itself exists solely on dues collected from members, donations, memorial and building funds, and purchases at the gift shop.
The permanent exhibits at the museum focus on Tularosa Basin’s interesting history, which includes the history of Alamogordo, Ruidoso, Tularosa, Cloudcroft, La Luz, and other communities in Sacramento.
The subjects of the exhibits cover a range of different areas, including the railroad, the local school for the blind, the military, the national monument, pottery, scouting, ranching, Native American history, and historical local figures.
Albert Fall- One of the biggest exhibits at the museum focuses on Albert Fall, who was the Secretary of the Interior during the Harding presidency (from 1921 to 1923). The museum features a variety of artifacts from that time - including the chair that Fall used in his office in Washington, DC and a framed picture of Harding’s cabinet that included Fall (which includes the chair to confirm authenticity).
47-Star Flag- There is also a flag with 47 stars, as the state of New of Mexico was star number 47 in January of 1912. However, as the US only adopts amended flags on the Fourth of July, the addition of the state of Arizona the same February meant the number of stars was changed again before the new flag was released. This flag is unique not only due to the number of stars, but also because it is handmade.
Punch Bowl- According to a family tradition by the Chase family, the American pressed glass punch bowl that is featured at the museum was given to Fall and was made by the L.E. Smith Company out of Jeanette, Pennsylvania.
Katherine Ortega- Another historical figure featured at the museum is Katherine Ortega, who served as the United States Treasurer under both the Reagan and Bush presidencies (from 1983 through 1989).
She was the tenth woman in a row to hold this office, as well as being only the second Hispanic ever to be Treasurer. The artifacts from her term include a sheet of one-dollar bills that was signed by Ortega as well as Robert Leuver (who gave her the bills as the acting Director of Printing and Engraving. He also signed the bills), a picture of Ortega and her husband, and an urn filled with shredded bills from the time she was Treasurer.
From time to time the historical society museum will host special events on the premises, designed to help guests further understand the history while also having fun!
One of the more recent additions to those special events is the La Luz tour that focuses on pottery. This is a limited time offering and includes a walking tour (so guests should make sure to wear comfortable shoes). The tours last anywhere from an hour to two hours, and guests are asked to bring their own water if they think they may get thirsty while walking. Reservations are required and can be made at the museum. There is no cost, but donations are encouraged.
Also, when new exhibits open at the museum, many times the museum will have special openings and dedications for them. A recent example of this is the opening of the local mission’s exhibit - which features the stories of eight different local missions in the Tularosa basin.
The museum offers a gift shop with a variety of merchandise related to exhibits at the museum and the history of the surrounding area. Stop by and pick up a book, a kitchen towel, coffee mug, journal, or a gift card. All purchases at the gift shop help support the museum’s daily operations, as the museum is a non-for-profit organization.
Tularosa Basin Historical Society, 1004 N. White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, NM, 88310, Phone: 575-434-4438