Alamogordo is a small, friendly city in the Tularosa Basin in Southern New Mexico. The city is flanked by White Sands National Monument and White Sands Missile Range on the west and the Sacramento Mountains on the east. The proximity to the missile range has caused the city and surrounding area to have quite a few interesting attractions related to science and space, including the New Mexico Museum of Space and the White Sands Missile Range Museum. For those who love the outdoors, there are a number of beautiful natural sights to explore in both the desert and the mountains, including Lincoln National Forest, Grindstone Lake, and the massive sand dunes at White Sands National Monument. A number of other attractions and interesting features make Alamogordo an attractive vacation destination. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument
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White Sands National Monument is a unique preserved area containing the largest gypsum sand dune field in the world. Massive sand dunes that resemble ocean waves cover 275 square miles of New Mexico’s desert. Much of the sand dune field is contained within the National Monument. The park also provides an opportunity to see the unique plants and animals that call the area home. Other activities include camping in the backcountry, bicycling, driving the scenic drive, hiking, horseback riding and more. White Sands Missile Range also occupies the area and conducts regularly scheduled missile tests. Dunes Drive, which is the only way to access the dune field, may be closed for several hours with as little as a day’s notice so check for road closures before driving in.

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2.New Mexico Museum of Space

New Mexico Museum of Space
© New Mexico Museum of Space


The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a Smithsonian-affiliated complex containing a museum and planetarium. The museum was created to preserve and display artifacts and exhibits related to the space age and the history of space flight. The museum consists of one main building, several outbuildings, and outdoor exhibits. The main museum has exhibits about the Solar System, the history of space flight, and the primates that were sent to space on early missions. Nearby there is an IMAX Theater and Planetarium that screens daily films. The outdoor area has a number of larger items on display including a memorial to the astronauts in the Challenger and Columbia space disasters, the burial site of the first chimpanzee in space, and Sonic Wind No. 1 rocket sled.

3198 State Route 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2840

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3.Alameda Park Zoo

Alameda Park Zoo
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Alameda Park Zoo was built in 1898 and boasts that it is the oldest zoo in the American Southwest. The zoo is very involved in conservation efforts, making it a zoo you can feel good about visiting. For example, they are participants in the Species Survival Plan for the Mexican wolf, and they also help mend injured birds of prey, many of which are later released to the wild. There are a number of other species that call the zoo home, including the Hawaiian goose, the Markhor goat, and White Sands pupfish. The lemur exhibit is also quite popular. It’s debatable whether or not the zoo is the oldest in the southwest, but either way a day at the zoo makes for a great day out in Alamagordo.

1321 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-439-4290

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4.The Toy Train Depot

The Toy Train Depot
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The Toy Train Depot is a model train museum and toy store that operates in a retired train depot that was used as far back as 1898. The interesting building still retains features of the original train depot such as the dispatcher’s window and the stamped tin ceiling. The museum has a variety of scale models of passenger trains, locomotives, and freight cars. America’s Park Ride Train Museum is also located at the same site and operates a narrow gauge railway, offering rides to museum guests for a small fee. In addition to the models, the museum also contains historical railroad artifacts, equipment, and train-related ephemera.

1991 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2855

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5.Tularosa Basin Museum of History

Tularosa Basin Museum of History
© Tularosa Basin Museum of History


The Tularosa Basin Museum of History is a history museum that is owned and maintained by the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. The museum’s collection contains artifacts, documents, and personal items from local history. Items on display include a bison trophy head, prehistoric native American artifacts, more than 3,000 historical photographs, and a pottery collection from La Luz Pottery Factory. The most prized item in the museum is an extremely rare 47-star US Flag. The flag was not an official US state flag and is thought to have been created to celebrate the entry of New Mexico into the United States.

1004 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-4438

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6.White Sands Missile Range Museum

White Sands Missile Range Museum
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White Sands Missile Range Museum has displays related to the history of America’s missile and space activity. The works of various accomplished scientists are showcased, including that of Dr. Clyde Tombaugh and Dr. Wernher von Braun. On the outside of the museum is a missile park which has more than 50 missiles and rockets that have been tested at the White Sands Missile Range. Many of the missiles are pointed skyward, which gives visitors the impression that they are ready to be fired. The museum is located within an operational military compound, which means you will need to be prepared to go through security.

Wsmr P Rt. 1, White Sands Missile Range, NM 88002, Phone: 575-678-2250

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7.Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
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Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is a state that preserves the 19th century ranch house that belonged to Oliver Lee as well as a canyon through the Sacramento Mountains. The park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, viewing wildlife, nature walks, touring the ranch house, and more. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Dog Canyon National Recreational Trail, which starts at the visitor center and covers a distance of 5.5 miles, climbing more than 3,000 feet up the canyon wall. Those who hike the trail will be able to enjoy gorgeous views of the Organ Mountains and the Tularosa Basin.

409 Dog Canyon Road, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-8284

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8.Heart of the Desert/Eagle Ranch Pistachios Farm Tour

Heart of the Desert/Eagle Ranch Pistachios Farm Tour
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Heart of the Desert/Eagle Ranch Pistachio Farm is known for their award winning, homemade pistachios. The popular pistachio brand is based at Eagle Ranch, which is a self-contained pistachio farm and production facility. The farm offers free guided tours. Guests will have the chance to learn how the pistachios are grown and processed. Tour groups travel by foot through the farm, and the tour takes approximately 45 minutes. They are wheelchair accessible, giving a greater number of people a chance to attend the tours. During the tour you will visit the processing plant, the pistachio field, and the packaging and shipping areas, giving you a full overview of the process.

7288 US-54, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-0035

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9.International Space Hall of Fame

International Space Hall of Fame
© International Space Hall of Fame

The International Space Hall of Fame honors those individuals who have put forth effort, imagination, and hard work into advancing our knowledge of the universe and space exploration. The program began in 1976 and is the only institution that recognizes both men and women from around the world who have played a significant role in space exploration. Some prominent individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame include Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Yuri Gagarin, and Sir Isaac Newton. The Hall of Fame is part of the New Mexico Museum of Space History, which contains other interesting exhibits related to space exploration.

3198 State Route 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-0318

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10.Shroud Exhibit and Museum

Shroud Exhibit and Museum
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The Shroud Exhibit and Museum923 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88310, Phone: 575-415-5206

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11.Desert Foothills Park

Desert Foothills Park
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Desert Foothills Park is a facility on the outskirts of the National forest and the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains. The park has a number of trails with both paved and dirt paths available. There is a roofed picnic area that can be used for cookouts and picnics and there are bathrooms on site as well. A number of easy walking, jogging, and biking loops can be composed within the park. For a nicer hike, take a walk through the park and then exit across the bridge to the Goat Springs Trail. A number of other hiking trails are accessible from the park, making it a great jumping-off point for those looking to explore the foothills.

2510 E. 1st Street, Alamogordo, NM 88310

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12.Lincoln National Forest

Lincoln National Forest
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The Lincoln National Forest is a forest preserve near Alamogordo, which contains more than 1.1 million acres of forested lands spanning from near the Texas border through several counties in New Mexico. The park has land on four mountain ranges and features a number of different environments and wildlife habitats. The national forest is a popular year-round destination for outdoor sports and recreation. Activities include camping, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and riding off-road vehicles. Winter sports enthusiasts will enjoy skiing and snowboarding at Ski Apache. There are also sledding and tubing areas and cross-country ski trails in the forest for even more winter fun.

3463 Las Palomas Road, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-7200

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13.Sacramento Mountains Museum

Sacramento Mountains Museum
© Sacramento Mountains Museum

The Sacramento Mountains Museum and Pioneer Village tells the fascinating story of pioneers who came and occupied land previously inhabited by the Mescalero Apaches. Settlers came looking for a better home, more temperate weather, and more natural resources. The museum has exhibits related to the resilience of the settlers as they struggled to make a home in the West, as well as exhibits and models of Cloudcroft, the railroad, and more. The Pioneer Village provides plenty of opportunities to learn about village life during the time of the pioneers. There is also a General Store that offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts for purchase.

1000 US-82, Cloudcroft, NM 88317, Phone: 575-682-2932

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14.New Mexico Rails-to-Trails

New Mexico Rails-to-Trails
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The New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association maintains a network of multiuse trails occupying the sites of former railroad lines. There are several trails within the network with skill levels ranging from easy to moderate. For those who are looking for an easy hike, try the Grand View Trail, which offers a relaxing hike through piñon and juniper forests. These are especially beautiful in fall, spring and winter. You can do it as an out and back hike or a 1.7-mile loop. For a slightly more difficult hike check out the Salado Canyon Trestle Trail and Bridal Veil Falls Trail, which share a trailhead, making them easy to combine. For even more of a challenge, try out Switchback Trail and Trestle & Crossover Trail.

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15.Grindstone Stables

Grindstone Stables
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Grindstone Stables in Ruidoso near Alamogordo offers a one-hour horseback ride experience. Each ride is led by a trained and experienced guide to give you an amazing and safe experience. The trip passes by Grindstone Lake and then ascends to the top of Townsend Ridge. In total, the trip is about three miles long and includes plenty of chances to take beautiful photos of the scenery and to see wildlife. The trailride welcomes all ages and children ages five and up ride by themselves. Children under five ride free of charge as long as they can fit in the saddle with an adult in their group, making a ride at Grindstone a great option for a family outing.

523 Resort Drive, Ruidoso, NM 88345, Phone: 575-257-2241

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16.Ruidoso River Museum

Ruidoso River Museum
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The Ruidoso River Museum is a museum that contains a variety of artifacts, documents, and photographs related to the Old West, including notable figures such as Billy the Kid, William Brady, Alexander McSween, and Pat Garrett. The collection of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid items is the largest in the world, making it the perfect stop for any Western lover. Some of the most significant items in the museum include the original Colt Model 1877 Thunderer revolver that was owned by Pat Garret, as well as his sheriff’s badge, made from solid gold. The museum also has Billy the Kid’s rifle on display along with a range of celebrity memorabilia and archeological artifacts.

101 Mechem Drive, Ruidoso, NM 88345, Phone: 575-257-0296

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17.Grindstone Lake

Grindstone Lake
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Grindstone Lake is beautiful and secluded mountain lake and a popular destination among those that love exploring the outdoors, fishing, hiking, and biking. There is a system of trails that covers a total of 18 scenic miles on five different trails. The trails are open to a number of activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. The trails welcome dogs on leashes, so feel free to bring Fido along for the day. The lake is stocked with catfish, bass, and rainbow trout, and the lake allows visitors to launch non-motorized boats, making it popular for fishing. Other activities include swimming, disc golf, and wildlife viewing.

Grindstone Canyon Road, Ruidoso, NM 88345

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18.Noisy Water Winery

Noisy Water Winery
© Noisy Water Winery


Noisy Water Winery is a winery and wine shop offering a selection of local wine and gourmet goodies. They have an interesting selection of wines, many of which are made locally in southern New Mexico. There’s also a fabulous range of gourmet cheeses and other gourmet snacks and food items. The store is a great one-stop-shop for picking up goodies for family members, friends, and yourself. Anyone back at home will certainly be grateful for whichever gifts you pick up at Noisy Water Winery, and indulging in the things you buy for yourself will have you dreaming of making another trip to Alamogordo.

2342 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso, NM 88345, Phone: 575-257-9335

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19.Plateau Espresso

Plateau Espresso
© Plateau Espresso


Plateau Espresso is a coffee shop in the middle of Alamogordo. The shop is a popular gathering place among those looking for a hip, laid-back place to grab a cup of Joe while meeting up with friends or listening to live music. They offer a number of coffee-based drinks, including espresso beverages, cold brews, and hot brewed drinks. Some of the most popular items on the menu are the Caffe Latte, the White Chocolate Mocha, the Espresso Macchiato, and the Cappuccino. Items on the menu are priced comparably to popular nationwide coffee chains, but the experience of hanging out at this local joint is so much better.

2724 N. Scenic Drive, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-434-4466

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19 Best Things to Do in Alamogordo, NM



Attraction Spotlight: White Sands Missile Range Museum

The White Sands Missile Range Museum, located in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, is a literal physical piece of history. Visitors to the site will be able to see the place where the nuclear age began and learn about how this impacted life as we know it, even now.

History

The missile range was established in 1945 and is still the largest overland military testing range in the United States, at 3,200 square miles. The first atomic bomb was tested here, at the Trinity Site, on July 16th, 1945. The museum opened in 1999 before closing for repairs, opening again after restoration was completed in 2004. Its mission is to educate people about the history of the nuclear age as well as the state of space travel, with a focus on how it relates to the White Sands area.

Permanent Attractions and Exhibits

Just outside of the actual museum is the missile park, which displays a collection of some of the rockets and missiles that were previously tested at the White Sands range. Guests should make sure to check them all out, including the Pershing II, the WAC Corporal, the Loon (which is the US version of a V-1), and the Patriot. There are over 50 different items available to see, and they can also be viewed on the White Sands website.

The inside of the museum features a variety of exhibits as well.

- V2 Tank- This hydrogen peroxide tank was powered with a mix of both alcohol and oxygen (in its liquid state). A “turbopump” was invented because of this tank, which allowed the oxidizer and fuel to be pumped as quickly as was necessary to sustain the flight energy needed. Inside the assembly was the hydrogen peroxide that mixed with sodium permanganate which created the steam that drove the turbopump) and allowed the V-2 to hit over 100 miles of altitude.

- Atomic bomb model- The museum features a scale model of the very first atomic bomb ever detonated at the Trinity Site.

- V2 motor: On display at the museum is an actual rocket engine that has been cut open in order to better display the inner workings.

- Slide rule- Before scientists and students were able to easily work out math problems on a calculator, they had to use a slide rule like the one on display at the museum. This specific slide rule is the type that was specially designed by German scientists in order to accurately calculate rocket trajectories.

- Portable calculator- Not quite the kind most guests will be used to, this “portable” calculator was used by the scientists at White Sands to look at date from the early missile experimental findings.

- Drone Control System- The museum has on display a formation control system from the 1980s that was used to pilot drones using the joystick on the machine.

There are also many more things to see, including exhibits focusing on the local prehistoric cultures as well as the Old West history so guests should make sure to budget at least a couple of hours to see it all. The museum is open all year round on weekdays from 8am to 4pm and on Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

Educational Opportunities

The missile range and museum is a perfect place to take students to introduce them to the history and importance of the White Sands site. The field trips are best for grade levels 9 through 12 due to the frank discussions of war. Contact the staff at the museum for additional information including cost, number of chaperones required, and types of tours being offered. If possible, teachers can request a tour guide to lead them through the missile site, park, museum, etc while explaining the history in a fun and engaging way. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by contacting the museum directly at least a few weeks in advance of the planned field trip.

Teachers can plan ahead by talking to students about the nuclear age, the birth of space exploration, and the history of White Sands and the Trinity Site. They can also discuss the political changes that were brought about by the first atomic bomb explosion in history.

Shopping

There is a small gift shop located at the missile museum which sells a small collection of merchandise like books and DVDs that focus on the history of the site and the missiles that were launched there. Guests can also purchase commemorative pins, personalized bricks, or just choose to make a donation to help support the mission of the museum as well as its daily operations.

White Sands Missile Range Museum, Wsmr P Rt 1, White Sands Missile Range, NM, 88002, Phone: 575-678-2550

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Attraction Spotlight: New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico

The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a planetarium and museum complex located in Alamogordo, NM. The museum focuses on displays and artifacts dedicated to the Space Age and space flight. As one of the 15 divisions of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the museum's mission is to educate both visitors and the local people of New Mexico about the world of technology and history, and the science of space. Having played a substantial role in the development of the U.S. Space Program via preserving, interpreting, and collecting artifacts associated with the history of space, the museum achieved AAM accreditation as of 1993. More Things to Do in Alamogordo

Permanent exhibitions

Inside the museum is a range of informative displays and exhibits about space exploration. The Basin Overlook exhibit highlights the occurrences in greater New Mexico and the Tularosa Basin that aided the exploration of space. A gallery of maps, photographs, and information describes the White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base, and the Tularosa Basin. The interactive Icons of Exploration exhibit showcases a collection of the museum's most celebrated artifacts and objects, highlighting the underlying themes of the museum and including moon rocks as well as replicas of the first satellites launched by man; Sputnik and Explorer.

The Living and Working in Space exhibit shows how humankind has adapted to the environmental challenges of inhabiting space. Space suits are on display here, as well as clothing, a space toilet, Soviet and American space food, and a bioinstrumentation pack. A further exhibit is Rockets!, which is a tactile exhibit with buttons to press that in turn create rocket sounds and allow 3D models of rockets to be observed; this exhibit gives the timeline of the development of rocketry over the years and pays tribute to many of the pioneers in the field of rocketry. The Looking Out, Looking Back exhibit describes the history of satellites, their importance, and how they have changed over the years in terms of technology.

The Space Science in New Mexico exhibition celebrates the Tularosa Basin and New Mexico’s link to space travel developments and the impact of the pioneers of space flight. The gallery displays a fuel injector that was part of a rocket made by Robert Goddard as well as some instruments from the German V2 rockets that were previously tested at the White Sands Missile Range. The final indoor exhibit is the International Space Hall of Fame. Dating back to 1976, this hall honors the achievements, efforts, and imagination of many who have advanced humankind's knowledge of space and the universe. The museum also contains the New Horizons Theater and Planetarium. This planetarium hosts four different showings per day and has the first Spitz SciDome 4K Laser fulldome projection system in the world.

The outside area also has the Astronaut Memorial Garden, which contains space-related artifacts documenting the exploration of space over the years. Examples of this outdoor exhibit are the Little Joe rocket, famed from its testing of the Apollo Launch Escape System, and the Sonic Wind 1 rocket sled, which was ridden by Dr. Stapp. By the flagpoles just outside the museum, the remains of Ham, the first chimpanzee in space, lies buried. Another exhibit located outside is the Astronaut Memorial Garden, which was created in memory of the astronauts who died in the Challenger disaster. Partially inside and partially outside is the Daisy Track exhibit, an air-powered sled track also known as the Daisy Air Rifle, which was used to test safety devices. Further displays include the sounding rockets and whisper dishes. Visitors can learn about all of these exhibits from the information plaques located beside each display. Also on site is the Museum Support Center, where volunteers and employees restore and conserve the large number of artifacts on display at the museum.

Ongoing programs and education

The museum offers young people of all ages the chance to join the New Mexico Rocketeer Academy program. For kindergarten through 9th grade there is a summer camp that has two programs to choose from. The camps are either half day (Comets) or full day (Mercury) and are divided into age groups and topics. Topics have ranged from dinosaurs to flying and space robots. The museum also has an outreach program, whereby a portable planetarium dome can be taken to schools for a performance. Another program run by the museum is the Museum Camp-Ins program. These camp-ins see children and adult chaperones travel through the museum participating projects as they go and seeing presentations and movies.

3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-473-2840

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Attraction Spotlight: Alamogordo Museum of History

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.

History

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.

Permanent Exhibits

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.

Special Events

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.

Shopping

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

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