Human Systems Research, Inc. (HSR), and White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) are
involved in a series of projects that might be of interest to the public. Through
the DoD Legacy Resource Management Program and in-house programs, WSMR has developed
multidimensional projects to document the historic cultural resources on the
range. These projects range from late 1880s ranches and mines to recent Cold
War facilities. Several of these projects involve popular histories and teacher
kits for classroom use.
Oral History Projects
The general oral history of the range was published approximately 2 years
ago. More recently,
- The first volume of the oral-history project, Homes on the Range:
Oral Recollections of Early Ranch Life on the U.S. Army White Sands Missile
Range, New Mexico, was reprinted for sale and wider distribution.
The former project director also prepared an article on the project and its
results for publication in New Mexico Magazine (vol. 74, no. 8).
- Instruction kits were prepared to show teachers, historical societies, and
ranchers and family members how to write questions, take stories, collect and
document photographs, and copy and archive photographs and tapes, while
suggesting safe ways to store and save these materials. A workshop was conducted
for families involved in the oral-history project as well as the general public.
- A second volume of oral histories entitled School Days: Education
During the Ranching Era on the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico,
focuses on the school experiences of ranch children during the 1920s, 1930s,
and 1940s. Historic photographs help tie Ritch and Bear Den Schools, one-room
schoolhouses now within WSMR, and Loretto Academy, a boarding school in Las
Cruces, New Mexico, to the oral remembrances.
- Lessons following the "Teaching with Historic Places" model for using historic
places to teach history, oral history, and cultural resource preservation
were prepared. These lesson plans provide a simple template by which activities,
readings, and illustrations are used to study specific locations, some of
which the students can visit.
Ranches and Mines
Oral-history studies were the first steps for several ranches. There are over
200 ranching, mining, and other premilitary buildings on WSMR that are over
50 years old; some are almost 100 years old. These have been documented on a
more extended schedule. In the third phase of this project, over 75 known sites
are being located, mapped, documented, and photographed. Standing buildings
and structures were evaluated for their integrity-preservation needs. Integrity
work on the buildings is covered by the range-wide integrity-preservation plan
approved by the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office.
The most important role of WSMR through the last 50 years has been missile
testing and the development of antimissile instrumentation.
- Results of a Cold War building inventory on WSMR have been published in
Star Throwers of the Tularosa. This volume includes descriptions of
properties on WSMR headquarters, launch facilities, test stands, and information
on radar and tracking of missiles on WSMR, beginning with the V-II rocket
and the German Paperclippers at the end of World War II. This volume also
presents a popular history of various missile programs.
- "Teaching with Historic Places" packets focus on the earliest launch complex
at WSMR, LC 33 and the V-II rockets first tested there, as well as recent
archival information concerning the variety of information captured from the
Germans, which allowed this rocket-testing program to continue in the United
States and not the Soviet Union.
The Trinity Site National Historic Landmark is a complex of
prehistoric, historic, and Trinity-era properties and surrounding landscape that
document the first atomic explosion. The property is open for visitation to
Ground Zero and the McDonald Brothers Ranch twice a year. Current work on
historic ranches and Trinity-era remains includes
- Two ranch houses, the McDonald Ranch (site of the final bomb assembly)
and the McDonald Brothers Ranch (the project base camp) are still standing.
At the McDonald Brothers Ranch, more extensive work was required to repair
partially collapsed adobe walls and weathered wooden porches and to replace
the corrugated tin roof that protects the building's interior rooms. A wooden
house on this ranch had a collapsed roof and leaning walls. A new corrugated
tin roof has been installed, and the walls straightened. Whenever possible,
original materials are used in the integrity-preservation work.
- An archaeological survey was completed to locate additional features of
the original atomic testing (test boxes, paper gauges, communications lines,
- An oral historian interviewed some of the last living engineers and project
people who were involved with the design, layout, and implementation of this
single explosive event. Their recollections can be found in the publication,
Trinity Experiments, by Thomas Merlan. Eventually, this information
is incorporated into exhibits that are open to the public during the Trinity
Open House weekends, the first Saturday of April and October of each year.
World War II Dump
Recent excavation and artifact analysis on an early military dump (one of
the first from WSMR, dating to 1945-1946) led to a series of archaeological
investigations. Artifacts from this excavation are on exhibit at the White Sands
Missile Range Museum.
- Research in newspapers and local post records has allowed HSR to assemble a
social history on the context of the dump and the materials that were deposited
in the trench there, from the life of the early Paperclippers (who were allowed
weekend recreation trips to Cloudcroft under armed escort) to the first women's
organizations on the post.
- A publication, Jewels of the Desert, was prepared on the types of
artifacts that were found in a dump affiliated with a post-World War II military
- The dump and its artifacts contain the historic place for a set of lessons
demonstrating basic principles of archaeology, stratification, and classification
and what can be learned from a single assemblage of artifacts resulting from
useage of short duration.
Copyright HSR. Inc., 2001