See Los Alamos
the Atomic City
Owner/guide Georgia Strickfaden has retired from running van tours in Los Alamos, but remains pleased to recommend how to discover Los Alamos on your own.
Must-see museums include the Bradbury Science Museum, LANL.gov/museum, which tells what is going on at Los Alamos National Laboratory (13,000 employees) and its specific history. The museum has a lot of hands-on stuff that kids—and adults—enjoy learning from.
Two blocks away in the heart of Los Alamos National Landmark Historical District is the History Museum, historic Fuller Lodge and Fuller Lodge Art Center, Bathtub Row, and Ashley Pond Park, showcasing the over-all 10,000 year history of Los Alamos. LosAlamosHistory.org. This is the area where the Manhattan Project actually took place; the Tech Area/Laboratory was relocated south after WW II and the town was rebuilt into the mid-century modern community right on top of what had been Manhattan Project, and is quite open to the public and inviting. The History Museum offers guided walking tours at 11:00 every day (except Sundays), which you may sign up for at the History Museum. Among exhibit areas are Cold War and a Nobel prize winners gallery, all located in original pre-WW II ranch buildings constructed of logs and stone.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park visitor center is part of historic Ashley Pond Park, across the street from Fuller Lodge. https://www.nps.gov/mapr/manhattan-project-los-alamos.htm
Visitors are also now discovering the fun new Nature Center, peecnature.org, next to Larry Walkup Aquatic Center (public indoor olympic-sized swimming pool). That can also be a place to begin hiking or biking some of our 60-mile network of trails in canyons, mesa tops and mountain terrain. Equestrians can share most of Los Almaos’ trails system. https://www.northmesastables.org
All of these attractions are within a few walkable blocks of each other. The unique Mesa Public Library, many eating establishments and parks for picnicking and recreation are available adjacent to the whole Historical District. Parking is free everywhere in Los Alamos.
Our free local transit bus, AtomicCityTransit.com, goes by all of the above, and on it you may also access the Main Tech Area of today’s Los Alamos National Laboratory sprawling 38-square mile campus. This is an interesting way to get “across the canyon” to LANL. A guide for doing just that is on this website; scroll down to the button “Take a free ride to LANL” with its little bus icon.
Indeed, most of Los Alamos National Laboratory south of town is restricted, but you may drive on the Ski Hill Road up toward the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area for not just breathtaking views of the whole region (and skiing in the winter), but you’ll be able to get a birds-eye view of all of the 38-square miles of LANL. Its in-town interpretive center is the Bradbury Science Museum.
I wish I could be your guide for your visit, but after 35 years of running the business, it is time to retire.
Safe travels, and enjoy beautiful and invigorating Los Alamos!
Sincerely yours, Georgia Strickfaden
The Obvious Question: Why Los Alamos?
1935 photo taken from Portal of Fuller Lodge, Los Alamos Ranch School. Los Alamos Historical Society Archives.
Prior to WW II, there was no town on the Pajarito Plateau. Abundant evidence of Prehistoric settlements testify to hundreds of years of occupation by the Ancestral Puebloans who had left during a severe drought to re-establish their communities along the Rio Grande. Nearly 400 years later, homesteaders, primarily northern New Mexico hispanos, started farming and ranching this isolated region when the railroad reached New Mexico in the 1880s. In 1917, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, Mr. Ashley Pond, Jr., bought one of those farms to realize his dream of a “ranch boarding school” as a health and preparatory school for boys, especially the scions of wealthy eastern families. By the time these hard-earned enterprises and surrounding Forest Service land were summarily taken over in 1943 as a “demolition range” for the war effort, there were 40 proved-up homesteads in the area now known as “Los Alamos”. The exclusive Los Alamos Ranch School had grown to 55 buildings primarily built of the local logs and stone, supporting a student body numbering 44 boys ages 12-18. University of California physics professor, J. Robert Oppenheimer, vacationed in New Mexico at his cabin in the mountains east of Santa Fe, and was well acquainted with the beautiful setting and gentrified facility of the Ranch School. He did NOT attend the Ranch School, but knew that its buildings and remoteness would be an ideal place to sequester the people working on fission….an Army post, Site Y, for the Manhattan Project.
Come to this spectacular and remote place to discover the rest of the story for yourselves!
Come View Our Unique Places
|For Los Alamos History Museum and Archives: [+] LosAlamosHistory.org|
|For more about the award winning Los Alamos Science Fest, in July: [+] LosAlamosScienceFestival.com|
|For Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Bradbury Science Museum: [+] lanl.gov/museum/|
|For Los Alamos on-line Visitor Guide: [+] visitlosalamos.org|