Saturday, May 31, 2014

US Hwy 70: Alamogordo, NM

Alamagordo, NM, is a sprawling desert town with a population of about 30,000 people at an altitude of about 4,300 feet. Although founded in 1898, it's clear that most of the town has been developed in much more recent times. The main drag offers every conceivable modern establishment, including fast food, quick marts, strip malls, chain stores and even a Home Depot right next door to a Lowe's.

The first thing I wondered is, "Why are all these people here?" The area has some natural beauty, to be sure, but that hardly accounts for so many people living in the middle of the desert. When you realize that the area also has an Air Force base, an extensive missile testing complex and a state university, you kinda have to conclude that this is another unnatural place for people to live that's the product of governmental stimulus. (Note: I'll leave it at that for now, but there's a theme here which I may do some more musing about in the future!)

Alamogordo's main attraction is the New Mexico Museum of Space History. It's a pretty good facility, with a higher than average collection of physical exhibits: Rockets, missiles, electronics, space suits, etc. It also has an extensive gallery of photos recognizing luminaries of space exploration, ranging from Galileo to the current space station crew. It's not the best space museum I've been to -- that honor remains with the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS -- but it's worth a visit if you're in the area.

A lesser known gem is the Toy Train Depot. Some die-hard toy train enthusiasts have assembled six rooms of working displays. Even if you're not feeling nostalgic about toy trains, it's worth seeing just to appreciate what people who share a passion can do. If that's not persuasive enough, you can also take a very nice ride around the adjacent town park in a nifty little train! Choo Choo!

The area's other main attraction is White Sands National Monument, but it deserves a post all its own... Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

No comments: