History of Los Alamos: Cliff Dwellings to the Atomic Bomb

Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Banadalier National Monument, Los Alamos, NM

Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Banadalier National Monument

Just 45 minutes away from the Inn on the Alameda is the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Located high on the Pajarito Plateau, Los Alamos is a secluded mountain town named after the Spanish word for cottonwood trees. But before the Spanish, the Pueblo Indians, and the Atomic Bomb made their mark, the area was inhabited by Anasazi Indians, a.k.a. “the ancient ones.” The Anasazi occupied the area in 1300 AD, but their restored cliff dwellings can still be seen from Bandalier National Monument.

Los Alamos’ transformation from ranch town to scientific hot spot began in 1917 with the creation of the Los Alamos Ranch School. The school was founded by one of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry who participated in the Cuban Invasion of the Spanish-American war. Nestled in the heart of the Jemez Mountains, the school was built to “toughen up” Easy Coast boys by exposing them to a vigorous, outdoor life-style.

22 years later, during the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein learned of Germany’s efforts to build an atomic bomb. Encouraged by his fellow scientists, Einstein informed President Roosevelt of Germany’s intentions, and the Manhattan Project was born. With assistance from Britain and Canada, the US Department of War began work in various areas throughout the country, but when it came time to bring the research together, secrecy was of the utmost importance. As a boy, Robert Oppenheimer, the eventual director of the Manhattan Project, spent time in a family cabin on the Pajarito Plateau. Years later, Oppenheimer suggested Los Alamos for the creation of the atomic bomb, and in 1942, the US government purchased the Los Alamos Ranch School.

Jemez Mountain Wilderness near Los Alamos

Jemez Mountains Wilderness

In 1943, scientists, families, and military personnel descended upon Los Alamos (a.k.a. “The Hill”) under the control of General Leslie Groves. While the scientists and their families originally occupied the school’s dormitories, they eventually moved into new army barracks. It’s said that when you arrived, you were told was where to hang up your coat and the time of the next meeting. The area shocked many wives and mothers who moved from university communities to a top-secret location in the Jemez Mountains complete with dirt streets. After arriving in Santa Fe, families were told to stop at a small office on Palace Avenue, whose only address was P.O. Box 1663. At the time, all Los Alamos mail was delivered to that address. The address was even listed as the birthplace of all Los Alamos children born during the War.

Los Alamos proved to be well suited for the construction of the first atomic bomb, or the “the gadget” to use its code name. It’s said that the secret of the Manhattan Project was so well kept that Harry Truman didn’t know about it when became President. Russian spies, however, were able to learn the secrets of the Manhattan Project. In 1955, the Rosenburgs were executed for passing atomic secrets to Russian agents. The Rosenburgs delivered their information underneath the bridge at Alameda and Delgado, 100 yards away from the Inn on the Alameda. Ironically, the US government mistakenly spent significant resources to prove that Oppenheimer was the spy.

Atomic Bomb Museum, Los Alamos, NM

General Leslie Groves & Robert Oppenheimer

On July 16th, 1945, the gadget was successfully tested at the Trinity Site near Alamogordo, NM. The explosion occurred in the early morning, and its light could be seen across many parts of the state. Awed at the results of the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer quoted the Bhagavad Vida. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.“ Shortly thereafter, the US dropped its remaining atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th. Japan surrendered almost immediately thereafter. Los Alamos and its fascinating history was the beginning of our WWII victory in the Pacific as well as the subsequent arms race between the US and Russia.

To see all that Los Alamos has to offer, start your day trip after breakfast. After your midmorning arrival, we recommend a tour of Bandelier National Monument and the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings. Then after lunch, visit the Bradbury Museum of Science and the History Museum in Los Alamos. If you’re new to northern New Mexico, Los Alamos offers you a look at prehistoric dwellings as well as the birthplace of the atomic age.

Image Credits

Hunters + Gatherers

mnmfinearts1

The New Mexico Museum of Art

There is a building in downtown Santa Fe that houses a world class collection of contemporary art, a building that is itself an example of the cultural synthesis that defines Santa Fe style and New Mexico culture: The New Mexico Museum of Art.  Located within an easy walk to the Inn on the Alameda, the Museum offers exciting and challenging exhibits of contemporary art coupled with a permanent collection featuring many of the artists and artworks that define New Mexico.

The structure housing this collection is itself a work of art.   The incorporation of Santa Fe into the United States had brought architectural styles that were largely incongruous with the cultural surroundings.  The exposure of modern trained architects in the early 20th century to the organic forms of Puebloan architecture resulted in a revolutionary synthesis of styles known as Pueblo Revival. Consciously building on the historical innovations of the Spanish Colonial era and the Pueblo peoples’ monumental structures, the Pueblo Revival movement helped define Santa Fe for the coming 20th century.

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Martha Opdahl, “Arroyo Seco #3,” 2002 – showing in the exhibit

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a masterpiece of this movement.  Designed by Isaac Rapp, the New York born architect called the “creator of the Santa Fe style”, the 1917 building has become an iconic example of the Santa Fe style, melding elements of all the defining cultural influences in New Mexican society into a cohesive and attractive whole.

The permanent holdings of the collection are devoted to the history of contemporary New Mexican art.   They include the Cinco Pintores, Georgia O’Keefe, the Taos Society and Gustave Baumann.  The museum also has an extensive collection of American photography and multimedia works.

It is a world class artistic institution that has been home to numerous travelling shows challenging exhibits on the nature and function of contemporary artistic representation and media, and a continuance of their mission to expand their holdings.

Few exhibits better represent the complex and continuing mission of the museum than that of their current show: “Hunting + Gathering: New Additions to the Museum’s Collection”.  It is an illuminating exhibit designed to educate visitors to the complexity of the roles of “museum” and “observer”, the duty to challenge as well as curate, and the necessity to adapt and evolve to a very changing cultural and academic landscape.   Encompassing multiple forms, the exhibit highlights works of sculpture, photography, prints, textiles, painting and mixed media, and displays them in a way as to challenge the viewer.

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Joyce Neimanas, “Girl with Squirrel (from the series Dog Show),” 1999 – showing in the exhibit

“Classic” pieces such as Ansel Adam’s photographs and Gustave Baumann’s paintings are juxtaposed with more challenging items such as Barbara Diener’s hauntingly composed and staged photographs and Sarah Magnuson’s evocative structures made of butterfly wings preserved under glass.  These contrasts help to define for the viewer the paradoxes and challenges apparent within the collection, and hopefully, present a cohesive whole greater than the sum of their parts.  This cohesion is mirrored in the Pueblo Revival building that houses it.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a quick 5-minute drive or 10-minute walk from the Inn via Paseo de Peralta, a main thoroughfare on the north side of town. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays 10am-5pm and welcomes visitors for free admission on Friday’s from 5-8pm, May through October, and the first Friday of the month, November through March.

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Inn on the Alameda, That Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, proudly presents all historical blog posts written by Joe & Michael Schepps. Read about the authors here.

Mike’s Blog: THE GETTYSBURG OF THE WEST | THE BATTLE AT GLORIETA PASS – Part 2

THE CONFEDERATE FLAG FLIES OVER SANTA FE

Canby (Left); Sibley (Right) - sourced from The Library of Congress

Canby (Left); Sibley (Right) – sourced from The Library of Congress

Sibley reached Santa Fe on March 13, 1862 (having set out from Texas on February 23, but not before the Union had destroyed the town’s supplies).  The Confederate’s New Mexico campaign that was meant to rely on speed and captured provisions was finding itself bogged down and low on supplies.

Sibley and his forces were now caught between Canby in the south and fresh Union reinforcements to the north.

Taking the offensive, Sibley went out from Santa Fe to attack the Union forces in a fierce battle. Unfortunately for Old Dixie, the Confederates had left behind their remaining military provisions for safekeeping.

Alvin Jewett Johnson's map of Texas and a portion of NM at the height of the Civil War

Alvin Jewett Johnson’s map of Texas and a portion of NM at the height of the Civil War

Following a small skirmish on March 26, both sides waited for reinforcements to arrive and they joined in battle once again on the 28th.  Fierce fighting and aggressive maneuvering led the Confederate forces to advance further than expected.  The Confederates took the Union positions in heavy fighting.  Thankfully for the Yankees, a New Mexican scout by the name of Anastasio Duran led a small force of scouts behind Confederate lines. While the larger battle was taking place, Duran discovered the Confederate supply train. Returning to the Union lines with the news, US troops led by Duran, attacked the Rebel supply train.

It was this attack that turned the tide of battle. 

The supplies were captured with little resistance.  Eighty wagons, loaded with provisions and ammunition with which the Rebels still intended to fuel their campaign, were looted then sent ablaze.  The auxiliary artillery was spiked and over 500 of the Confederate horses and mules were either killed or driven off.  Alerted by the smoke of the burning wagon train, the Confederates were forced to return to Santa Fe. The loss of these supplies and material would prove devastating to the Confederates.  Sibley pulled the remaining troops back to Albuquerque, in the hopes of reinforcements arriving from Texas.

Image of Glorieta Pass taken in 1990 by a National Park Service employee

Image of Glorieta Pass taken in 1990 by a National Park Service employee

By mid-April the Union forces had begun to converge and Sibley decided to retreat.

Confederate control of the northern part of New Mexico had lasted a mere two months.  Union soldiers were dispatched throughout the New Mexico territory and the New Mexico Campaign and the Confederate attempt on the West came to an end. A simple accounting of the Battle of Glorieta Pass belies its importance in the American Civil War.  By closing the door to the West and halting the Confederate advance, The United States was able to concentrate on the war in the South and East, while the rich resources of the Western Territories helped bankroll the delayed, yet successful victory 3 years later.

Many civil war elements remain in Santa Fe today.  The New Mexico History Museum is a few minutes’ walk from the Inn and provides many resources to assist in understanding the campaign.  Glorieta Pass is only 40 minutes from the Inn along a scenic drive, and the battlefield includes an interpretative center as well as a bounty of historical information. 

 

Joe and Mike’s Blog: El Ranch de las Golandrinas or Ranch of the Swallows

rancho de los golondrinasThis beautiful rural and rustic museum to the south of Santa Fe is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Anyone interested in livestock, farming, culture and living conditions during the early Southwest’s history will find this restored one-time caravanserai (from the Persian kārvānsarā, or Resting Place of Caravans), an accurate depiction of what historical life was like at this ranch. This camping or resting place, built in 1710 by Miguel Vega de Coca, was located just one final day’s journey from Santa Fe on the famous El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road to the Interior Land) – the original route from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico. This is where our story about Rancho Los Golondrinas must begin.

In an earlier blog about New Mexico Statehood, I described the establishment of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro by the Spanish Conquistador, Onate, who traveled north in the last years of the 16th Century from Mexico City to the interior lands. He and his small group of settlers followed ancient Native American trade routes towards present day New Mexico to colonize the unexplored land north of the Rio Bravo (present day Rio Grande River). Over the 2 centuries that followed, until the opening of the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri in the early 19th Century, El Camino Real was the sole trade and military route to the new Province of Nuevo Mexico. The route began in Mexico City, passing through the Mexican mining towns of Zacatecas and Durango up to El Paso, and finally Santa Fe.

cottonwoods at golondrinasImagine the excitement of finally nearing Santa Fe – your final destination following a 6-month difficult, dusty and certainly uncomfortable trip! Here, one day away, was a place with water, feed for stock, food for weary travelers, and a place to bathe and pull out and clean your best clothes for your arrival the next day at the capital city of Santa Fe. Rancho Los Golondrinas was a true traveler’s paradise set among the cool cottonwoods of Caja del Rio.

If it were not for the Curtin-Paloheimo family, there would be no museum. This was the far sighted family which, in the 1930’s, bought the ranch with a preservationist’s vision. As part of that vision, The Museum was created to reconstruct and recreate what life was like in the 1700’s on a colonial Spanish ranch. Comparing it to its more famous cousin of Colonial Williamsburg is interesting. While both are “living museums,” I naturally preferred the relaxed Southwestern style of Los Golondrinas that embodies New Mexico. The historical recreation is done with more familiarity and approachability, and offers an informal view towards the past. The tradition of preservation continues today under the auspices of the Los Golandinas Foundation.

ElCaminoRealTierraMany activities and exhibits embody the feel and look of the early New Mexico years, including: the restored acequias (irrigation ditches), the small flocks of sheep and their shepherds, the flour and corn grinding mills, the stables and outbuildings, barns and corals, original clothing and other activities of the early Spanish settlers. Be sure and visit the Museum during its annual Spring or Fall Festivals for the best experience. Canyon Road, near the Inn, shares the distinction of both the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and Camino del Canon (Canyon Road) being originally Native American trails that the Spanish turned into their own routes.

While in the neighborhood, please stop in and spend the night refreshing yourself from your journeys at the peaceful and relaxing Inn on the Alameda, nestled in a beautiful, cottonwood-lined setting. No matter what time of year it is, a stay at the Inn is always a treasured experience – winter, spring, summer and fall.

 

 

-Joe and Michael Schepps

Mike and Joe

Joe’s Blog: Kite Flying Styles, The American Science and the Japanese Artistic

Insect Kite from Museum of New MexicoMost of us think of Benjamin Franklin when we think of the first kites. His famous experiment in 1752 “discovered” electricity by capturing negative charges from static electricity passing overhead while he flew a kite with a metal key attached. Mr. Franklin was one of our country’s greatest minds, creating everything from the first public library and volunteer fire department, to drafting the original constitution of the United States. But like many Western minds, his proficiency was foremost in the sciences, so when he thought kite, he thought scientific experiment.

The Japanese, however, thought art and beauty as well when they thought kites, and the current exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art Museum here in Santa Fe  traces the exquisite history of kite making in Japan. The Inn on the Alameda is delighted to offer a special 3-night package in partnership with the Museum in honor of this exhibit.

It is believed that the kite was originally introduced to Japan by Chinese Buddhist Monks in the 7th and 8th Century AD. These kites were used in celebrations of giving thanks and other spiritual expressions. One can imagine the excitement among the early Japanese who saw for the first time elaborately colored creations that soared seemingly effortlessly in the wind.

Tsugaru Style Kite from Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe 2In the 10th Century AD, the characters for “Kami Tobi” first appear in written Japanese history, and these translate into paper hawk – which leads us to speculate that either the first kites looked like or certainly sailed through the air like birds of prey.  While primarily a decorative and visual experience, kites soon were adapted in Japan as construction tools, used to raise loads of roof tiles high aloft to the workers at the many beautiful shrines and temples. It is recorded that one of the largest kites had a wingspan of 75 feet.

By the 12th century, reports emerge of kites carrying people, one such incident resulting in the violent death at the hands of the authorities of a thief who used a large kite to steal the golden scales of an ornamental dolphin high atop the Castle of Nagoya. Another story tells of an exiled Warrior named Minamotot-no-Tametomo  who constructed a large kite to use the winds to carry him and his son back to the mainland.

However, the greatest period of advancement in the design and decoration of Japanese kites occurred in the Edon period from 1603 until 1867, a time when Japan closed its doors to all outside influences. This isolation created an opportunity for Japan to perfect its own interpretation of the kite, when there were created over 130 different regional styles, representing various colorful folkloric, mythological and spiritual themes. The kites were made with light-weight bamboo or cypress woods and covered in hand made papers brightly colored with natural dies and figures defined by black ink.

Today, many festivals celebrate the kite in Japan. On the 5th day of the 5th month,  ( Boy’s Day ), kites are flown throughout the country , as well as for various festivals, the New Year and public holidays. Some kites have the face of the devil to ward off evil spirits. The kite festival known as Hamamatsu, where kite teams do battle in the skies, is viewed by as many as 2,000,000 spectators. Kites are also flown at times of birth, with various good luck symbols purporting good wishes and desired traits to the newborn in a family. These include the carp, the crane and the tortoise.

Tsugaru Style Kite from Museum of New Mexico in Santa FeTherefore, it would seem impossible to not sail over to Museum Hill here in Santa Fe to experience this unique and special exhibit of Japanese kites currently on display at the Museum of International Folk Art. This unique and stunning show lasts through July 2014 and is not to be missed. In addition to our special Tako Kichi package offering, the Inn on the Alameda provides a courtesy shuttle service to the Folk Art Museum for our guests.  We are the closest hotel to both Canyon Road and Museum Hill where the following incredible museums are to be found just up the road: Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian; Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of International Folk Art. Also, if time allows, be sure and visit the new Santa Fe Botanical Garden, also located at Museum Hill.

In closing I wanted to share some of my own memories of kite flying as a kid on blustery spring days in North Texas, watching my simple store bought wood and paper kite ascending with roll after roll of twine into the warm and windy skies of Dallas.  I certainly never envisioned for a second the images of Chinese Buddhists or Japanese artisans raising high the kites of the Far East; however, I believe I shared that same mysterious magic moment when the tiny spec of my kite disappeared into the clouds following a break of the twine when I could imagine my kite ascending all the way to the heavens like a hawk set free.

From all of us at the Inn on the Alameda, “Go fly a kite!”

-Joe

Joe Schepps

A Santa Fe Christmas!

We’re thinking holidays, how about you? Planning to travel to New Mexico in December? We are happy to offer some suggestions to make your Santa Fe holiday travel bright!

Here at the Inn on the Alameda, we welcome the arrival of the winter holiday season by lighting the Chanukah candles on Saturday, December 8 after sunset.

Happy Chanukah!

On Sunday, December 9, beginning at 3:00pm, Chabad Santa Fe invites everyone to attend a free Chanukah event on the Santa Fe Plaza, with a Community Menorah Lighting followed by a concert, featuring Jono Manson. And the Inn is also delighted to welcome any of our guests to light the candles in our Lobby on any of the eight nights of Chanukah.

Also on December 9, the annual holiday tradition of Las Posadas, a re-eanctment of the Holy Family’s search for shelter, takes place beginning at 5:30pm on the Plaza. This procession begins at the Palace pf the Governors and processes around the Plaza, and all are welcome to join. The devil makes an appearance to taunt the crowd, and booing ensues until an angel appears with a light sending blessings on those assembled. The walk concludes back at the Palace of the Governors, where biscochitos and hot cider are on tap.

Warming Up after Las Posadas

Thanks to the many wonderful museum gift shops and unique boutiques, Santa Fe has great options for picking up a  holiday gift that cannot be duplicated. Each museum shop’s selection is curated around the individual museum’s mission, so you can find Native American treasures, Spanish heritage gifts, and folk art oddities. The Plaza area is a mecca for cowboy boots, souvenir potholders, velvet skirts, and of course, jewelry.  And don’t worry, guys, there’s a cigar shop if you need to escape !

Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum

Holiday music will be resounding through the City Different, known for its commitment to the musical performance. The Lensic has a roster of lyrical events to pick and choose from. Aaron Neville brings his sweet voice to Santa Fe with a Christmas concert on Monday, December 10 at 7:30pm. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus celebrates its birthday in music on Sunday, December 16 at 4:00pm. On Monday, December 17, the Santa Fe Concert Band, led by the inestimable Greg Heltman, offers its annual free concert at 7:00pm; this is your chance to carol! On December 24, at 5:00pm, the Santa Fe Concert Association welcomes an 11-year-old virtuoso pianist and composer, Emily Bear, to perform a Christmas Eve concert, also at the Lensic.  And the musical year ends on New Year’s Eve with a performance by the Harlem String Quartet at 5:00pm.

Of course, the Lensic is not our only venue! Santa Fe Pro Musica will be ensconced in the Loretto Chapel for two performances nightly at 6:00pm and 8:00pm from Thursday, December 20 through Monday, December 24, presenting their annual Baroque Christmas Concert. On Saturday, December 29 at 6:00pm and Sunday, December 30 at 3:00pm, Pro Musica offers a Mozart Holiday Concert at the St. Francis Auditorium.

Our Beautiful Cathedral is Perfect for Carols

On December 14, 18, 20, 21 & 22, at 8:00pm, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale presents a concert of Carols and Lullabies in the perfect location for such music, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. And on Sunday, December 15, the Chorale welcomes any and all to The Big Sing, a performance guaranteed to be the largest choir singing in New Mexico, taking place at 3:00pm at Cristo Rey Church. Not to be outdone, the 12-voice Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble performs A Winter Festival of Song on Saturday, December 14 at 7:00pm at the Loretto Chapel and Sunday, December 15 at 3:00pm at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.

If you are staying in Santa Fe over the winter holidays, it’s a very good idea to have dinner reservations, and our concierge-trained staff is happy to recommend and reserve for you. We are here to answer all of your holiday questions, whether you are staying with us or not…just ask!

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT THE INN!