LANL Inaugural Lecture: Homesteading on the Pajarito Plateau

Local authors Dorothy Hoard, Judy Machen and Ellen McGehee stand next to their informational plaque in front of the Romero homesteader cabin in Los Alamos. Courtesy/LANL

LANL News:

  • Lecture series begins yearlong commemoration of 70th anniversary

In commemoration of its 70th anniversary, Los Alamos National Laboratory kicks off a yearlong lecture series at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9 with a presentation about homesteading on the Pajarito Plateau at the Bradbury Science Museum, 1350 Central Ave., Los Alamos.

The inaugural lecture is based on a book by local writers Dorothy Hoard, Judy Machen and Ellen McGehee about the area’s settlement between 1887 and 1942.

On hikes across the Pajarito Plateau, Hoard envisioned the Los Alamos area before modern roads and bridges made transportation much easier.

The trails she walked along were once old roads, often steep, with parts carved with picks and axes out of the tuff bedrock.

The roads differed from trails in that they had to be wide enough to accommodate a wagon and not too steep for a horse to pull the wagon’s contents up the Los Alamos cliffs.

Hoard developed a curiosity about the early settlers who used ordinary tools available to them to build roads and expand their settlement of the region.

Her growing interest led to collaboration with Machen and McGehee. The result is the book, Homesteading on the Pajarito Plateau, 1887-1942.

“This is the authors’ first public presentation about their book,” said Bradbury Science Museum Director Linda Deck. “They talk about how these people carved out lives and homes in this corner of New Mexico a hundred years ago, and why their efforts were so significant to the beginnings of Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

A book signing is scheduled after the presentation, with attendees receiving a complimentary copy. Those interested should arrive early, as seating is limited to the first 100 attendees.

About the Los Alamos 70th anniversary lecture series

The free lecture series continues each month through December 2013 at the Bradbury Science Museum.

Upcoming lectures:

  • Feb. 13, 2013: Ray Smith lectures on the wartime role of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he currently serves as historian, and the importance of collaboration among the nuclear complex laboratories.
  • March 13, 2013: Sandia National Laboratories historian Rebecca Ullrich discusses Sandia’s transition from a wartime Los Alamos division to an independent laboratory.
  • April 10, 2013: Col. Paul Tibbets, IV, grandson of the Enola Gay pilot, shares personal reminiscences of his grandfather’s military career. Tibbets highlights the importance of collaboration between the military and the national laboratories; past, present and future.
  • May 8, 2013: Jon Hunner, head of the New Mexico State History Department, lectures about the early social history of Los Alamos.
  • June 12, 2013: Istvan Hargittai of Budapest University of Science and Technology, compares the early histories of Los Alamos and its Soviet counterpart, Arzamas-16.
  • July 10, 2013: Noel Pugach, University of New Mexico, discusses President Harry Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs.
  • Aug. 14, 2013: Los Alamos Historian Emeritus Roger Meade lectures on Capt. William S. “Deak” Parsons, one of the Laboratory’s two wartime associate directors and the Enola Gay weaponeer.
  • Sept. 11, 2013: Byron Ristvet, of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, discusses the Laboratory’s role in the Cold War nuclear weapons testing program.
  • Oct. 9, 2013: A celebration of Los Alamos’ 50 years in space. Speakers include Laboratory Fellow and astrophysicist Ed Fenimore and planetary scientist and principal investigator of the ChemCam team Roger Wiens.
  • Nov. 13, 2013: Retired Los Alamos physicist John C. Hopkins reflects on his Cold War career in the weapons program.
  • Dec. 11, 2013: Terry Wallace, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s principal associate director for global security, discusses the future of innovation at the Laboratory.

Additional information is available at the Los Alamos 70th Anniversary Public Lecture webpage.

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