LOS ALAMOS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Do you know the names of the five Nobel Prize winners who have lived on Bathtub Row? Or why the homesteaders who lived in the little cabin near the Memorial Rose Garden farmed only 15 acres on the plateau? Or what spurred Ashley Pond to start a western ranch-style school for wealthy, mostly eastern boys?
You can learn the answers to these and many other questions about Los Alamos history by taking a guided tour of the Los Alamos Historic District 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Trained volunteers and staff members lead visitors through the one-block area along Bathtub Row that encompasses all eras of Los Alamos history—and they also explain how Bathtub Row got its name! Some tours are delivered chronologically, while others are site specific and may skip around in time. Guides develop their own scripts based on extensive training and reading about Los Alamos history.
Chronologically, tours begin at the 13th century Ancestral Pueblo Site, which, geographically, sits almost in the center of the historic district. Guides explain the stories of the Ancestral Pueblo people in this area and why so many small sites like this one, housing two to three families, are found on the Pajarito Plateau.
The next time-traveling stop is at the Romero Cabin, a homestead cabin original to the plateau but not to the district. It was moved from its original location near the Los Alamos National Laboratory plutonium plant in the 1980s. Visitors enter the cabin and step back in time more than 100 years to learn why homesteading on the plateau was so different than the “Little House on the Prairie” stories that may be familiar to many.
The tour is highlighted by a visit to Fuller Lodge, an outstanding example of log architecture on a par with more famous lodges in Yellowstone or Yosemite national parks. The building, which served as the dining hall for the Los Alamos Ranch School, is the perfect embarkation point for stories about the famous, all-boys prep school that had a profound impact on the nation.
No trip to Los Alamos is complete without a visit to the life-size sculptures of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and Gen. Leslie Groves—including selfies! Here, guides explain the complicated relationship between the scientific and military directors of the Manhattan Project as well as why Los Alamos was chosen as the site for the top-secret WWII laboratory. Ashley Pond (the pond) serves as a backdrop to explain where the original laboratories were built and some of the work that was done there in the busy days of WWII.
Bathtub Row homes, all of which were constructed during the Ranch School era, have seen a significant amount of history in their 80+ years, and guides tell stories of each building’s history and occupants throughout the tour. They also share recommendations on books about Los Alamos history and answer questions such as, “How did the Manhattan Project get its name?”
The Los Alamos Historic District is a National Landmark District, established in 1966 under the auspices of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. All of the buildings in the district are on the New Mexico State Register of Historic Places.
Tours begin at the Los Alamos History Museum, 1050 Bathtub Row (next to Fuller Lodge). Tickets are $15 and include admission to the Los Alamos History Museum. Children under 18 are free when accompanied by an adult.
Those interested in being a tour guide for the Los Alamos History Museum should contact volunteer coordinator Todd Nickols at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505.695.5250.
These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. All articles were originally published by the Los Alamos Daily Post.