Home on the Range: From Ranches to Rockets

On display through Feb 03, 2025

The New Mexico History Museum and the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum present this exhibition that chronicles the history of the Tularosa basin in south central New Mexico beginning with ranching in the late 1800s through the testing of military weapons on the White Sands Missile Range. Visitors will learn about ranching life through objects and images, along with the history of early rocket technology, testing and recording.

By the early 1900s, much of the land east of Las Cruces, New Mexico, including the San Andres and Oscura Mountains, and the Tularosa Basin, was ranching country. Many of the ranchers relocated to New Mexico with their sheep and cattle from Texas in the late 1800s. Ranching life changed abruptly in this region after the U.S. entered WWII and on January 20, 1942, an executive order established a training range for U.S. crews in the Tularosa Basin, called the Alamogordo Bombing Range, known today as the White Sands Missile Range.

Army Corps of Engineers representatives came to the range to survey the area and inform ranchers that they needed to move out. The forced relocation and future actions of the military led to years of resentment by the ranching community. On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was test detonated at the Trinity Site near the northern boundary of the missile range. After the conclusion of WWII, 100 long-range German V-2 Rockets, captured by U.S. military troops, were brought to White Sands Missile Range. This was followed by the testing of American rockets, which continues to this day, along with testing other technologies.

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