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ABOVE: A V-2 Rocket rests in its own special exhibit building directly across the entrance to the main museum. (U.S. Army Photo/Leah Romero) RIGHT: This Aerobee 170 rocket, now installed in the White Sands Missile Range Park, set a new record altitude for single stage rockets on April 30, 1957 when it carried 140 pounds to a height of 189 miles above White Sands. Equipment for America’s first satellite was tested by sending it aloft on an Aerobee. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)


Dropping in on the Past Missile Range museum offers diverse history


he White Sands Missile Range Museum has been open to residents of the base and the public for 24 years this summer and hosts a range of exhibits highlighting the area’s significance in major historical events. The Range Museum opened in the summer of 1994 and has been overseen by Darren Court, the museum curator, for 11 years. He along with a museum specialist and a handful of volunteers, provides tours, develops the exhibits and handles public outreach. Court said between 40,000 and 45,000 people visit the site each year. Most come from out of state. “We have people that come back through every year, snowbirds, travelers, so we like to give them something new to look at,” Court said. “Plus there’s such a diversity of history here that we try to make sure there’s something new and interesting all the time.” The museum is located inside the WSMR gate on the left side of Headquarters Road. It includes the main building with artifacts, and a Missile Park which features static displays of a wide variety of missiles and rockets tested at White Sands. Sydney Walton visited the museum for the first time in June during a business trip from California. She made the museum her first stop on base. “There’s a lot of history here,” Walton said. “I didn’t know this place existed.” Roy Rumbough and his son Michael are also from Plano, Texas. They had been to the area before but stopped at the Range Museum for the first time to see the exhibits. Exhibits include displays of Native American and A portion of the museum shows involvement during the Mexican-American War. (U.S. Army Photo/Leah Romero)

ranching artifacts as well as paintings depicting the do.” The improvements will also add more technology WSMR area throughout history. The museum also contains a model of the atomic bomb detonated at Trini- and a focus on science, technology, engineering, and ty Site and various other weapons models, along with mathematics. Court said the Center of Military History in Washington D.C. has committed funding to aid in the equipment used for the tests. Along with the exhibits, the museum offers tours of expansions, which will elevate the museum to a Smithhistorical sites on post such as Hembrillo Canyon where sonian level. Admission is free to the Missile Range Museum and a battle occurred in 1880 between the Army and a combined band of Chiricahua and Mescalero Apaches led by it is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Chief Victorio. Visits are also possible to Launch Com- and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Missile Park is plex 33, the country’s first major rocket launch facility open daily during daylight hours. To inquire about a tour, where the testing of V-2 rockets from Germany helped call 575-678-3358. More information is also availlead the way to orbiting satellites and manned space able on the museum webflight. Any group can organize a tour through the museum. site at www.wsSchool groups, veterans and installation staff are among those that have visited the sites. “If you have a group on the installation and you’d like to visit the museum or LC-33, we can do that every third Wednesday of the month,” Court said. “And Hembrillo, we can do every third Thursday of the month.” Court is also in the process of facilitating the building of an expansion to the museum. This summer they plan to break ground on a new gallery. “It’s going to replace the old one that we have in the back that we call ‘Grandma’s Attic’, which is just a bunch of stuff with labels,” White Sands Missile Range will open Trin Court said. “The building will be designed ond of two annual open houses Saturday, Oc where we can lay out exhibits in such a Trinity Site is where the world’s first atom way that facilitates ease in telling a story and will make it easier for the visitor to Mountain War Time July 16, 1945. get a better understanding of what we

Trinity S opens do atomic hi

The open house is free and no reservations a take a quarter mile walk to Ground Zero where where the bomb was detonated. Historical photo ing the area. Visitors may ride the missile range shuttle bus 2 McDonald Ranch House, where the scientists asse Visitors can experience life as it was for a ranch f There are two ways to access Trinity Site. Nearest to Las Cruces, a guided caravan leaves f High School Athletic Field at 7 a.m. The caravan The other entrance is through White Sands Mis ter Gate, 5 miles south of U.S. Highway 380. The and 53 miles west of Carrizozo. The nearest cit The Stallion Gate is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p tween those hours will be allowed to drive Site. The road is paved and marked. The site closes promptly at 3:30 p.m. To enter the range all vehicles, proof are required; and all adults require pi tion, visit

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Desert Exposure - September 2018  

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