Socorro to Ruidoso - Saturday, October 6
7:30 am - Meet at hotel registration room for daily meeting. Gas up prior to meeting.
Comfort Inn, Socorro to Trinity Site - 57 miles
Depart 8 am, Arrive 9:30 approximately depending on traffic, Stay 1 1/2 hours
We will head south through town, taking NM-1 south to San Antonio. 35.1 miles to Trinity Site turnoff on US-380 E. Trinity Site is 5 miles to gate and 17 miles to site, 44 miles round trip. Tour will provide cold water. Participants need to bring a snack, as lunch will be late.
Trinity Site to Valley of Fires - 60 miles
Depart 11:00, Arrive 12:10, Stay 20 minutes
Valley of Fires to Carrizozo - 4 miles
Depart 12:30 pm, Arrive 12:35. Gas up and eat lunch.
Carrizozo to Fort Stanton - 27 miles
Depart 2:00, Arrive 2:30. Museum is open until 4 pm, grounds until 5 pm.
Fort Stanton to MCM Elegante - 18 miles Depart 4:30 - 5, Arrive 5:30.
Check into hotel. Dinner is on your own.
Trinity Site National Historic Landmark
Trinity Site is only open 2 days a year. We are fortunate to visit at this time.
Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested at 5:29:45 am Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945. The 10-kilo-ton explosion not only led to a quick end to the war in the Pacific but also9 ushered the world into the atomic age. All life on Earth has been touched by the event, which took place here.
The 51,500-acre area was declared a national historic landmark in 1975. The landmark includes base camp, where the scientists and support group lived; ground zero, where the bomb was placed for the explosion; and the Schmidt/McDonald ranch house, where the plutonium core to the bomb was assembled. Visitors to a Trinity Site Open House are given the opportunity to visit ground zero and the ranch house. In addition, one of the old instrumentation bunkers is visible beside the road just west of ground zero.
Valley of Fires
Four miles west of the Town of Carrizozo on US 380, Valley of Fires Recreation Area is located immediately adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow. The site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin with molten rock up to 160 feet thick. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest flows in the U.S. From a distance, Valley of Fires appears s barren rock but when you walk along the nature trail there are many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. Animals include bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails, mule deer, barberry sheep, and lizards. It’s also a virtual birdwatcher’s paradise with great horned owls, burrowing owls, turkey vultures, hawks, gnat catchers, cactus wrens, sparrows, and golden eagles. There is a small visitor center and bookstore. The area includes the ADA accessible, paved Malpais Nature Trail.
Carrizozo is a town in Lincoln County, New Mexico and is the county seat with a population of 996 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1899, the tow provided the main railroad access for Lincoln County, and the town experienced significant population growth in the early decades of the 1900s. However, with declining relevance of the railroad, the population of the town has gradually declined. Elevation is 5,436 ft.
Here you will have the opportunity to gas up and have lunch. There are three restaurants to choose from. ZZQ BBQ is a food truck, Four Winds Restaurant advertises “comfort food” and Raylee’s serves lunch. We will need to split up because these restaurants are not able to hold all of us at once.
Fort Stanton was built in 1855 by soldiers of the 1st Dragoon and the 3rd and 8th Infantry Regiments to serve as a base of operations against the Mescalero Apache Indian. It served as a military fortification through 1896. Built of local stone, the sturdy 1855 buildings have lasted to this day. The Fort was named for Captain Henry W. Stanton, killed fighting the Apaches in 1855 near present day Mayhill. Troops marched out from the Fort to search for and fight the Mescalero Indians during numerous campaigns from 1855 until the 1880’s.
The Military Years
The Fort was seized by Confederate forces in 1861. During the occupation, three Rebels were killed by Kiowa Indians while on patrol 50 miles north. After all supplies were moved to Mesilla, the Confederates abandoned the Fort, burning it as they left.
The Hospital Years
In 1896, with the Mescalero Apache settled on the nearby reservation and the surrounding area bustling with new communities, the Fort was abandoned by the Army and closed. In 1899, however, the US Public Health Service acquired the Fort as a tuberculosis hospital for the Merchant Marine. Selected for its healthful climate, it served some 5,000 sailor patients between 1899 and 1953, 1,500 of whom are buried in the Maritime Cemetery on a hillside overlooking the Fort. The patients lived in specially constructed tents, as fresh air and sunshine were the only known cures for tuberculosis.
During this time, many new buildings were constructed including a hospital, stables, new living quarters, and literally hundreds of tent-houses for the patients. The hospital was fairly self-sufficient, establishing a large farm on the nearby grounds with patients serving in the fields, as well as recreational activities like a golf course for the doctors, baseball fields and a theatre for the resident workers. The nearby cemetery grew to include veterans of other services as well as Merchant Marines, making it a place for current visitors to the site to engage in contemplative visitation.
CCC and Internment Camp
During the Great Depression, Fort Stanton was home to a CCC work camp, which later served as the internment site for German merchant seamen from the German luxury liner, S.S. Columbus, which was scuttled outside of New York to prevent its capture by the British. The German internees built a camp that included such amenities as gardens for fresh produce, a recreation hall, and a swimming pool in which “mini-Olympic” competitions were held with the local population. After war was declared with Germany and Japan, the Internment camp housed some German prisoners of war as well as a few Japanese internees. It was used during early WWII for several months as a refuge for a group of Japanese-American families threatened by mobs in their hometowns.
1953 to 1997
In 1953, the Fort was given to the State of New Mexico and used first as a tubercular hospital and then, from the 1960’s until 1995, as the State Hospital for the Developmentally Handicapped. For a short time it was a low security women’s prison and has housed several juvenile, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. When the State moved to dispose of the property, Fort Stanton, Inc., a nonprofit corporation (501-c-3), was created in 1997 to save this national treasure and seek its adaptive reconstruction as a living history center. It succeeded in mobilizing public opinion and convincing the State Legislature to preserve the Fort and appropriate the first funds for its renovation. Fort Stanton Inc. also won sizeable grants to begin reconstruction of the historic buildings. On August 9, 2007, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish proclaimed the establishment of the Fort Stanton State Monument.
Bureau of Land Management Partnership
Fort Stanton has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees thousands of acres surrounding Fort Stanton. Visitors are invited to enjoy the nearly 100 miles of trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding with a camping area operated by BLM. The BLM operates an extensive caving program, including studies of the Fort Stanton Cave and Snowy River, but the caves are not yet open to the public.