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The City of Alamogordo
—  City  —
Downtown Alamogordo, looking west on 10th Street toward White Sands Boulevard
Motto: The Friendliest Place on Earth[1]
Location in the State of New Mexico
Coordinates: 32°54′01.48464″N 105°57′37.72398″W / 32.9004124°N 105.9604788833°W / 32.9004124; -105.9604788833Coordinates: 32°54′01.48464″N 105°57′37.72398″W / 32.9004124°N 105.9604788833°W / 32.9004124; -105.9604788833 [2]
Country United States of America
State New Mexico
County Otero County[3]seat[4]
Founded 1898
Incorporated 1912
Named for álamo gordo, Spanish for "big cottonwood"
 - Type Commission/Manager
 - Mayor Ron Griggs[5]
 - Mayor Pro Tem Chris Lujan[5]
 - City Manager Mark Roath[6]
 - Total 19.3 sq mi (50.1 km2)
 - Land 19.3 sq mi (50.1 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation [2] 4,336 ft (1,322 m)
Population (2008)[7]
 - Total 35,757
Time zone MST (Mountain Standard Time) (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (Mountain Daylight Time) (UTC-6)
ZIP codes[8] 88310, 88311 (PO Box)
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-01780
GNIS feature ID 0903054

Alamogordo (pronounced /ˌæləməˈɡɔrdoʊ/) is the county seat of Otero County and a city in south-central New Mexico, United States. A desert community lying in the Tularosa Basin, it is bordered on the east by the Sacramento Mountains. It is the nearest city to Holloman Air Force Base. The population was 35,582 as of the 2000 census. Alamogordo is known for The Atari video game burial of 1983.

Humans have lived in the Alamogordo area for at least 11,000 years. The current settlement established in 1898 to support the construction of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, is an early example of a planned community. The city was incorporated in 1912. Tourism became an important economic factor with the creation of White Sands National Monument in 1934. During the 1950-60s, Alamogordo was an unofficial center for research on pilot safety and the developing United States' space program.

Alamogordo is a charter city with a council-manager form of government. City government provides a large number of recreational and leisure facilities for its citizens, including a large park in the center of the city, many smaller parks scattered through the city, a golf course, Alameda Park Zoo, a network of walking paths, Alamogordo Public Library, and a senior citizens' center. Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center is a nonprofit shared military/civilian facility that is also the hospital for Holloman.

As the economic center of Otero County, Alamogordo has a primarily service and retail economy that draws its customers from tourists and from active-duty and retired military personnel. The city is accessible through three U.S. Highways and scheduled commercial air service at Alamogordo-White Sands Regional Airport. Holloman Air Force Base (including a German Air Force Tactical Training Center) and White Sands Missile Range are two nearby major military bases. By some estimates, Holloman accounts for half the economy of Alamogordo. The city also has a public school system, a branch of New Mexico State University, and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, making education also a significant contributor to the economy. A city's gross receipts tax funds incentives for new businesses, which are recruited by the nonprofit Otero County Economic Development Council. Several films a year are shot partly in the Alamogordo area and the filming expenditures add to the economy. The New Mexico Museum of Space History, Lincoln National Forest, and White Sands National Monument are in or near the city. A hot-air balloon festival is held annually. Skiing is available in nearby Mescalero and Cloudcroft, and gambling is available at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in Mescalero.



Tularosa Basin has been inhabited for at least 11,000 years. There are signs of previous inhabitants in the area such as the Clovis culture, the Folsom culture, the peoples of the Archaic period, and the Formative stage.[9] The Mescalero Apache were already living in the Tularosa Basin when the Spanish came in 1534, and Mescalero oral history says they have always lived there.[10] The Spanish built a chapel at La Luz (about 5 miles (8.0 km) from the future site of Alamogordo) in 1719, although La Luz was not settled until about 1860.[11][12]:167

The city of Alamogordo was founded in June 1898, when the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, headed by Charles Bishop Eddy, extended the railway to the town.[13]:4, 6–7 Eddy influenced the design of the community, which included large wide thoroughfares and tree-lined irrigation canals.[14] Charles Eddy's brother John Arthur Eddy named the new city Alamogordo ("large cottonwood"[15] or "fat cottonwood" in Spanish) after a grove of fat cottonwoods he remembered from the Pecos River area.[13]:x–1 When Alamogordo was platted in 1898, the east-west streets were given numerical designations, while north-south streets were named after states. The present-day White Sands Boulevard was then called Pennsylvania Avenue.[12]:42, 44–45

Otero County Administration Building, the former main post office and a WPA building constructed in 1938

Several government buildings in Alamogordo were constructed by the Works Progress Administration, a government program created in 1935 in response to the Great Depression. These include the Otero County Administration Building at 1101 New York Avenue, a Pueblo style building originally constructed as the main U.S. Post Office in 1938. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The main entrance portico features frescoes by Peter Hurd completed in 1942. The Post Office moved out in 1961, and the building was used by a succession of Federal agencies and was known as the Federal Building. The last Federal agency to occupy it was the United States Forest Service who used it as the headquarters of the Lincoln National Forest until October 2008, when that agency moved to a newly constructed building.[16][17] Ownership of the building was transferred to Otero County government and many government offices were moved from the Courthouse to the new Administration Building in February 2009.[18][19]


Aeronautics and space exploration

Sonic Wind No. 1, a rocket sled ridden by John Paul Stapp in several record-breaking runs. Now on display at the New Mexico Museum of Space History

In the 1940s until the early 1960s nearby Holloman Air Force Base was the site of a number of tests designed to improve safety of Air Force flights and of upcoming manned space flights.[20]:Foreword The Aeromedical Field Laboratory (AMFL) was founded at Holloman in 1951 as a support facility for the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright Field[20]:91 (today the 711th Human Performance Wing within the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). The scientific work at AMFL focused on the effects of cosmic radiation, fractional gravity, and mechanical forces on living tissues.[20]:45 Tests prepared or performed at AMFL included Project Manhigh (cosmic ray effects),[20]:18–19 Project Excelsior (high-altitude parachutes),[21]:47 and a number of unnamed rocket sled tests (escape from high-performance aircraft).[20]:47–48 Tests were performed on both animal and human subjects, and AMFL maintained a collection of animals at Holloman.[20]:96–97 Many of the tests were performed under the direction of John Paul Stapp, who moved from Wright Field to Holloman in April 1953 to become the head of the laboratory.[20]:91

Stapp volunteered as the first human test subject in all of the rocket sled tests.[22]:109 On December 10, 1954, he rode the Sonic Wind No. 1 rocket sled at Holloman in a run that decelerated from 632 miles per hour (1,017 km/h) to a complete stop in one and one-quarter seconds. His body experienced over 40 times the force of gravity, in essence making him weigh 6,800 pounds (3,100 kg) for that brief time.[22]:101, 111-112

In the third flight of Project Excelsior, launched from Holloman on August 16, 1960, Joseph Kittinger stepped from the balloon gondola at an altitude of 102,800 feet (31,300 m) and set several records, including one for longest parachute free-fall. The gondola carried a sign reading, "This is the highest step in the world".[23][24]

Grave of Ham under the sign to the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo

Ham, the first chimpanzee in space, was trained at Holloman; his name is an acronym for Holloman Aero Medical. His flight occurred on January 31, 1961.[25] After Ham died in 1983 at age 27, his body was necropsied and the skeleton removed. The remaining soft parts of his body were buried in front of the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo.[22]:258 Enos, the first chimpanzee to orbit the earth, was also trained at Holloman.[22]:262 His flight occurred on November 29, 1961.[25]

White Sands Space Harbor, located about 30 miles (48 km) west of Alamogordo, is a NASA facility that has runways on a dry lakebed and is the primary training area for Space Shuttle pilots practicing approaches and landings.[26] The site was designated as a back-up Shuttle landing site in 1979, and on March 30, 1982 Space Shuttle Columbia ended the third Shuttle mission, STS-3, by landing there.[27] After that landing, White Sands Space Harbor became an emergency landing site for the Shuttle.[26]

Book burnings

Alamogordo briefly made international news in late 2001 when Christ Community Church held a public book burning of books in the Harry Potter series, and several other series, on December 30.[28][29][30] Other items burned included novels by J. R. R. Tolkien[28] and Stephen King,[29] Star Wars material,[28] Complete Works of William Shakespeare,[28][30][31] magazines,[31] and a Ouija board.[28][29] Pastor Jack Brock called the Potter books "a masterpiece of Satanic deception"[30][31] and said the character taught children to take up wizardry.[29] Several hundred people protested the event.[28][29][31] Alamogordo Public Library continued a display of Harry Potter books that was originally mounted in conjunction with the movie premiere of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.[31] Cash donations were made to the library, and library director Jim Preston said, "With this money we are purchasing additional copies of Harry Potter, Tolkien, and Shakespeare."[31]


As of 2000 Alamogordo had a total area of 19.3 square miles (50.1 km²), all of it land.[32] The city is located at an elevation of 4336 feet (1322 m)[2] on the western flank of the Sacramento Mountains and on the eastern edge of the Tularosa Basin. It is in the Rio Grande rift[33] and in the northernmost part of the Chihuahuan Desert.[34]:36 Tectonic activity is low in the Tularosa Basin.[35] Plants native to the area are typical of the southern New Mexico foothills and include creosote bush, mesquite, saltbush, cottonwood, desert willow, and many species of cactus and yucca.[36]

The Tularosa Basin is a closed basin, that is, no water flows out of it.[35][37] Because of this and because of the geology of the region, water in the basin is hard: it has very high total dissolved solids concentrations, in excess of 3,000 mg/L.[35][38] The Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility, a Bureau of Reclamation laboratory doing research and development on desalination of brackish water, is located in Alamogordo.[39] The gypsum crystals of White Sands National Monument are formed in Lake Lucero. Water drains from the mountains carrying dissolved gypsum and collects in Lake Lucero. After the water dries, the winds pick up the gypsum crystals and distribute them over the basin.[34]:37

Climate data for Alamogordo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 56
Average low °F (°C) 29
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.6
Source: [40] 28 August 2008


As of the census of 2000, there were 35,582 people, 13,704 households, and 9,728 families residing in the city. There were 15,920 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 75.4% White; 5.6% African American, 1.1% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 12.1% from some other race, and 4.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 32.0% of the population.[41]:38

There were 13,704 households out of which 36.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.07.[41]:38

In the city the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.[41]:39

In 1999 the median income for a household in the city was $30,928, and the median income for a family was $35,673. Males had a median income of $28,163 versus $18,860 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,662. About 13.2% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.9% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over.[42]

Alamogordo's and Otero County's July 1, 2008, population were estimated at 35,757 and 62,776 respectively by the United States Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program.[7] The Census Bureau defines the Alamogordo Micropolitan Statistical Area as Otero County.[43][44]


Otero County
non-agricultural civilian employment (number of people)
Agriculture, forestry,
fishing & hunting
Mining 28
Utilities 68
Construction 1,348
Manufacturing 227
Wholesale trade 211
Retail trade 2,052
Transportation & warehousing 537
Information 234
Finance & insurance 436
Real estate & rental & leasing 162
Professional & technical services 729
Management of
companies & enterprises
Administrative & waste services 883
Educational services 48
Health care & social assistance 1,994
Arts, entertainment & recreation 63
Accommodation & food services 1,590
Other services,
except public admin
Non-classifiable 3
Total private sector 11,179
Federal 2,004
State 801
Local 3,838
Public administration 6,643
Grand total 17,822
New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions,
Employment Statistics, Table D[45]

Alamogordo is the economic center of Otero County,[46] with over half the Otero County population living within the city limits. Alamogordo today has very little manufacturing and has a primarily service and retail economy, driven by tourism, a large nearby military installation and a concentration of military retirees.[47][48] In 2006 the per capita income in Otero County was $22,377 versus per capita income in New Mexico of $29,346.[49]

Economic history

Alamogordo was founded as a company town to support the building of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad,[13]:2 a portion of the transcontinental railway that was being constructed in the late 1800s. Initially its main industry was timbering for railroad ties.[13]:1 The railroad founders were also eager to found a major town that would persist after the railroad was completed; they formed the Alamogordo Improvement Company to develop the area,[13]:5 making Alamogordo an early example of a planned community. The Alamogordo Improvement Company owned all the land, platted the streets, built the first houses and commercial buildings, donated land for a college, and placed a restrictive covenant on each deed prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of intoxicating liquor.[13]:1,9,13,44

Tourism became an important part of the local economy from the creation of White Sands National Monument in 1934.[13]:53 Construction began on the Alamogordo Army Air Field (the present-day Holloman Air Force Base) in 1942, and the Federal government has been a strong presence in Alamogordo ever since.[13]:39,53 Education has also been an important part of the local economy. In addition to the local school system, Alamogordo is home to the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, founded in 1903, and a branch of New Mexico State University founded in 1958.[13]:44,58 The largest non-government employer in the city is the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center with 650 employees in 2008.[50]

Military impact

Holloman Air Force Base is the largest employer in Alamogordo, and has a major effect on the local economy. According to some estimates, Holloman accounts for half of the Alamogordo economy.[51][52] According to the 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office, as of January 2008 Holloman directly employs 6,111 person with a gross payroll of $266 million. It indirectly creates another 2,047 jobs with a payroll of $77 million. The estimated amount spent in the community, including payroll, construction projects, supplies, services, health care, and education, is $482 million.[53]

The first F-22 Raptor assigned to Holloman AFB arrives on June 2, 2008

An estimated 6,700 military retirees live in the area. Counting both USAF and German Air Force personnel there are 1,383 active military and 1,641 military dependents living on base and 2,765 active military and 2,942 military dependents living off base.[53]

Future Combat Systems is a wide-ranging modernization project of the US Army. Much of the work will be done at Fort Bliss, with some at White Sands Missile Range and some at Holloman Air Force Base. Alamogordo is expected to get some economic benefit due to its proximity to these three bases.[54]

Economic development

Otero County Economic Development Council is a nonprofit organization founded in 1984. Its focus has generally been on job creation and recruiting and expanding businesses in Otero County, including helping them satisfy business regulations in New Mexico and lining up funding.[55][56] Its role expanded in 2000, when Alamogordo passed an Economic Development Gross Receipts Tax. OCEDC continues to work to attract businesses, but now it also helps develop the incentive packages that will be paid by the new tax, and a portion of the tax receipts go to fund OCEDC's operating expenses.[57] Formal economic development plans have been adopted by Alamogordo[58] and by Otero County.[59]

OCEDC has recruited several new employers by using financial incentives. A 1-800-Flowers call center opened in November 2001 and received $1.25 million in city rent abatements, a 50% reduction in property taxes from Otero County, and $940,000 in plant training funds from the State of New Mexico.[60][61] A Sunbaked Biscuits cookie factory opened in 2006 and received $800,000 in job-training incentives from the state.[62] When the company went out of business in 2007, Marietta Baking took over the cookie factory and received interest-free loans, job-training incentives, and partial forgiveness of indebtedness for job creation.[63][64] A branch office of PreCheck Inc., a company performing background checks of health-care workers, opened in 2006. PreCheck received $2.4 million in high-wage job creation tax credits, $1.5 million in job-training subsidies, $1.5 million in capital outlay money for roads and infrastructure, a $625,000 allocation from City of Alamogordo for upgrading sewer lines in the area, and 20.8 aces of land from Heritage Group, a developer.[65] PreCheck announced in 2009 that it would move its headquarters from Houston to Alamogordo.[66]

New buildings in Alamogordo: PreCheck, Inc. headquarters, Aviator 10 Theater, and the US Department of Agriculture / Forest Service building.

The Otero County Film Office,[67] an office of Otero County Economic Development Council, promotes film-making in Otero County by publicizing potential locations in the county and New Mexico's film financial incentive programs[68] and by recruiting extras for film productions. It sponsors the Desert Light Film Competition for middle and high school students to encourage learning about the film industry.[69] The 2007 film Transformers spent $5.5 million in New Mexico and $1 million in Alamogordo.[70]

Arts and culture

Flickinger Center for Performing Arts is a venue for concerts and live theater

There are two amateur theatrical groups in Alamogordo. Alamogordo Music Theatre[71] produces two musical productions annually at the Flickinger Center for Performing Arts. The NMSU-A Theatre on the Hill produces an annual spring performance for young audiences at the Rohovec Fine Arts Center on the New Mexico State University at Alamogordo campus,[72][73] and an annual Fall performance for general audiences.[74][75]

Annual cultural events

The Earth Day Fair is held annually on the last Saturday in April at Alameda Park Zoo. It features a butterfly release, a science fair, activities for children, and information booths from local health agencies and nonprofits.[76]

Otero County Fair is held annually in early August at the County Fairgrounds at the corner of White Sands Boulevard and Fairgrounds Road in Alamogordo. It features a rodeo, animal judging, food and game booths, and carnival rides. Nonprofit and government agencies set up information booths in the exhibit hall.[77]

The Cottonwood Arts and Crafts Festival is put on each Labor Day Weekend in Alameda Park by the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce. It is primarily a showplace for vendors of handmade items, but also features music, entertainment, and food.[78][79]

White Sands Balloon Invitational is held annually in late September. Hot air balloons launch from the Riner-Steinhoff Soccerplex on First Street or from White Sands National Monument and float over the Tularosa Basin.[80]

Oktoberfest is celebrated annually in late September, hosted by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) at Holloman Air Force Base. The public is invited, and shuttle buses run between Alamogordo and the base.[81]

Museums and other points of interest

New Mexico Museum of Space History is a science museum covering space flight

New Mexico Museum of Space History is a state museum housing artifacts related to space flight. It incorporates the International Space Hall of Fame.[82] Ham the Astrochimp is buried here.[22]:258

Flickinger Center for Performing Arts, located at 1110 New York Avenue, is a 590-seat theater created in 1988 from a re-purposed movie theater. It hosts concerts and live theatrical performances by touring groups, and is the venue for the local amateur group Alamogordo Music Theater.[83][84][85]

Alamogordo Museum of History (formerly Tularosa Basin Historical Society Museum) collects artifacts related to the history of Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin. It is a private museum, operated by the Tularosa Basin Historical Society.[86] Among notable items in the collection is a 47-star US Flag; New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the Union, and US flags were made with 47 stars only for one month, until Arizona was admitted.[87] The Museum shop has a large collection of local history books. The Historical Society also publishes its own series of monographs on local history, Pioneer.[88] The Museum had planned to move from its location at 1301 N. White Sands Boulevard to a historic adobe building at the corner of White Sands Boulevard and Tenth Street by the end of 2008,[89] but as of July 2009 this plan has stalled due to lack of money to renovate the building.[90]

American Armed Forces Museum is a museum under construction on U. S. Route 82 near Florida Avenue. It will collect and display all kinds of military memorabilia from all wars and military engagements.[91] In May 2008 it was projected to open January 2009,[92] but as of August 2009 it has still not opened.

The Shroud Exhibit And Museum, located in White Sands Mall, showcases a full-sized backlit photographic transparency of the Shroud of Turin, a religious relic believed by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. The displayed photograph is based on 1978 photographs made by Barrie M. Schwortz as part of the Shroud of Turin Research Project. The displays include historical background materials and an exhibit of electronic image analysis of the shroud.[93][94][95]

The Alameda Park Zoo, the oldest zoo in the U.S. Southwest, is located in the city. Several Union-Apache battles were fought near Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.[96]


Alamogordo has no professional athletic teams. The Alamogordo Desert Dawgs[97] are an amateur football team formed in 2008.[98] They are part of the New Mexico Football Alliance.[99] The Desert Dawgs are organized as a limited liability company owned by Tony Castiglione and Kenneth Mitchell,[98] and have local sponsors underwriting expenses.[100] The team has an agreement with Alamogordo Public Schools by which the Desert Dawgs practice and play home games at Alamogordo High School's Tiger Stadium and the school district receives 20% of the home gate.[98] Tiger Stadium is nicknamed "The Dawg Pound" when the Desert Dawgs play there.[101] Several of the team members are airmen from nearby Holloman Air Force Base.[102]

Fun run/walks are popular in Alamogordo, although most are one-shot affairs put on as part of some larger event. One recurring event is Walk Out West, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) walk held each October in Alameda Park Zoo. It incorporates a health fair, live music, and fun events for kids.[103] An offshoot of this is Dance Otero, an informal approach to ballroom dancing as a form of physical exercise that meets throughout the year.[104] Both programs are run through Otero PATH, a local nonprofit that encourages preventive measures for good health.[105]

Gus Macker tournament in Alamogordo

There are a number of annual sports events. The Tommy Padilla Memorial Basketball Tournament[106] is an annual event held in March. It is an adult tournament that raises money for scholarships for Alamogordo High School students.[107] The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is a national program that holds a tournament in Alamogordo each year in May. Prior to 2008 it was hosted by the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, and since then by the City of Alamogordo.[108] The City receives 72% of the entry fees and 5% of the gross proceeds taken in by vendors.[108] The event is held annually at Washington Park in conjunction with Saturday in the Park and Armed Forces Day.[109] In 2009 more than 233 teams participated in the tournament.[109] Several golf tournaments are held each year at Desert Lakes Golf Course, including the Robert W. Hamilton Charity Golf Classic.[110]

Parks and recreation

The Alameda Park Zoo, located at 10th Street and White Sands Boulevard, specializes in Southwestern animals

Alamogordo has numerous small parks scattered through the city, and a few larger ones. Mentioned here are some of the more notable parks.[111]

Alameda Park is a city park lying on the west side of White Sands Boulevard between Tenth Street and Indian Wells Road. Most of the park is shaded by cottonwood trees. At the south end of the park is Alameda Park Zoo and at the north end is The Toy Train Depot, a railroad and toy train museum.[112]

Washington Park is a city park in the center of town, bounded by Washington and Oregon Avenues and running from First Street to Indian Wells Road. City Hall and several other city buildings are located in the park.[111] At the north end of the park is Kids Kingdom,[113] a children's play area with a giant jungle gym.

There are public athletic fields at the Jim R. Griggs Sports Complex, located at the corner of Florida Avenue and Fairgrounds Road, and the Travis C. Hooser Ballfield Complex (also called Walker Field) located at the corner of U.S. Route 70 and Walker Road.[111]

The Alamogordo Family Recreation Center, at 1100 Oregon Avenue, is a city-owned facility offering a weight room, swimming pool (open year round), and basketball gym. There are outdoor tennis courts north of the building.[114] The Alamogordo Senior Center is a city facility for senior citizens that provides a social center and an exercise room and serves congregate meals and Meals on Wheels.[115]

The new clubhouse at Desert Lakes Golf Course was constructed in 2007

Desert Lakes Golf Course is a city-owned golf course located at the south end of town on Hamilton Road at Desert Lakes Road. It is an 18-hole course. The clubhouse houses a restaurant and a pro shop. There is a PGA golf pro on duty at the course.[116]

Not inside the city but nearby are several national and state parks. The Oliver Lee Memorial State Park is about 10 miles south on U.S. Route 54, offers camping, hiking, and picnicking.[112] The White Sands National Monument, a U.S. National Monument, is located about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Alamogordo along U.S. Route 70. The area is in the mountain-ringed Tularosa Basin valley area and comprises the southern part of a 275-square-mile (710 km2) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals.[112] The Lincoln National Forest, whose headquarters are in Alamogordo, is a mountainous area that starts about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Alamogordo and offers hiking, fishing, and camping.[117] The Sidney Paul Gordon Shooting Range, located about 3 miles (4.8 km) north of town at 19 Rock Cliff Road in La Luz, is a supervised range with rifle, pistol, and archery ranges. Several competitions are held at the range each month.[118]


Alamogordo City Hall houses most of the city government administrative functions, as well as the Commission Chambers and the Municipal Court

Alamogordo was incorporated in 1912.[13]:136 It is a charter city (also called a home rule city[119] ), and the charter is included as Part I of the Code of Ordinances.[120] It has a Council-manager government form of government (called Commission/Manager in New Mexico).[120]:Article II There are seven city commissioners, each elected from a district within the city, on staggered 4-year terms.[120]:Article VII The city manager is considered the chief executive officer of the city and is tasked to enforce and implement the City Council's directives and policy.[121] The mayor is a member of the City Council. Currently, Ron Griggs holds the position of mayor.[122]

Alamogordo's fiscal year ends on June 30 each year; thus Fiscal Year 2008 runs from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008. The FY 2008 budget projects income of $61,454,402[123]:7 and expenditures of $73,655,777.[123]:5 Sources of City government income and their percentages of the whole were:[123]:7 gross receipts tax (31%), miscellaneous (23%), grants (22%), user fees (19%), and property tax (5%).


Deutsche Schule, a school for children of German Air Force service members and employees at the German Air Force Flying Training Center at Holloman Air Force Base

New Mexico State University at Alamogordo[124] is a two year community college established in 1958. It currently has approximately 1,800 students.[125] There are two high schools, three middle schools, and 11 elementary schools in the Alamogordo Public School District.[126] Prior to 2008 there were two private schools in Alamogordo: Legacy Christian Academy and Father James B. Hay Catholic School.[126] A third private school, Imago Dei Academy, opened in August 2008 and provides a classical Christian education. Kindergarten through eighth grade is taught with plans to gradually expand to the 12th grade.[127][128]

The German government operates the Deutsche Schule (German School) for children of Luftwaffe (German Air Force) personnel stationed at the German tactical training center at Holloman Air Force Base. The New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a state school located in Alamogordo.[126]

Alamogordo Public Library serves Alamogordo and Otero County.[129] The library at New Mexico State University's Alamogordo campus is also open to the public.[130]


The main newspaper in Alamogordo is Alamogordo Daily News (ADN), owned by MediaNews Group. ADN is published six days a week; on Monday, when it does not appear, subscribers receive the El Paso Times.[131] ADN also publishes Hollogram, a free weekly newspaper distributed at the nearby Holloman Air Force Base and covering happenings on base.[132] There are no alternative newspapers published in Alamogordo but The Ink, a free Las Cruces monthly newspaper devoted to the arts, is distributed in the city.[133] The city government publishes City Profile, a monthly print newsletter that is mailed to all households in the city and is published electronically on the city web site,[134] and Communiqué, a blog with city news.[135]

There is one television station, KVBA-LP, that broadcasts from Alamogordo. It has a religious format, and a weekly local news magazine broadcast Thursday through Saturday.[136][137] Several Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and El Paso stations have relay transmitters in Alamogordo.[citation needed] Cable television service is provided by Baja Broadband.[138]

There are two commercial radio broadcast companies, WP Broadcasting and Burt Broadcasting; each operates several stations in several formats.[139][140][141] There are two "listener-supported" radio stations that do not carry advertising but depend on sponsorships and donations. KUPR-FM has a gospel music format and some live coverage of local events, including many remote broadcasts from civic events.[142] KALH-LP is a low-power FM station that carries a music variety format, network news on the hour, and local news on some hours.[143] Neither station is an NPR affiliate. The local NPR outlet is KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, which reaches Alamogordo through a local relay transmitter.[144]

Several major motion pictures were filmed in or near Alamogordo. The 2007 film Transformers was shot primarily at White Sands Missile Range, with additional filming at Holloman Air Force Base, both in the Alamogordo area.[145] Its 2009 sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen also prominently featured these two military bases.[146] The 2009 film Year One was shot partly at White Sands National Monument, near Alamogordo.[147] Alamogordo was one of the fourteen cities profiled in the 2005 documentary 14 Days in America.[148][149] The Otero County Film Office maintains a list[150] of films shot partly or wholly in Alamogordo and Otero County.

Infrastructure and transportation

Major highways

The major intercity surface routes from Alamogordo are U.S. Highways 54, 70, and 82, all of which are four-lane roads. The major north-south street within the city is White Sands Boulevard. The Charlie T. Lee Memorial Relief Route, which is designed as U.S. Route 54 and 70, is a bypass road constructed to the west of the city in 2001 to relieve congestion on White Sands Boulevard.[151][152]

U.S. Route 70 and U.S. Route 54 traverses through the north and south ends of the city.[151] At the south end of the city, White Sands Boulevard is a the major named street that merge into U.S. Route 54/Charles T. Lee Memorial Relief Route, running south to El Paso, Texas. In the south part of the city, U.S. Route 70 splits from U.S. Route 54 in a southwestern direction to Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands National Monument, and White Sands Missile Range prior to reaching Las Cruces. At the north end of the city, White Sands Boulevard and the Charles T. Lee Memorial Relief Route become a merged U.S. Route 54 and U.S. Route 70 running north to Tularosa. U.S. Route 82 starts at the same point and runs east to Cloudcroft and the mountain communities of Otero County, and then to Artesia.

Other transportation

Alamogordo-White Sands Regional Airport provides scheduled commercial service and is used for general aviation

Alamogordo-White Sands Regional Airport is the municipal airport located in the Alamogordo area. It is primarily used for general aviation.[153] There is also scheduled commercial service from New Mexico Airlines, operated under a subsidy from the Essential Air Service program.[154]

Greyhound Lines offers intercity bus service to Alamogordo.[155] There is daily shuttle van service between Alamogordo and El Paso International Airport.[156]

Z-Trans is the mass transit system, providing paratransit and scheduled service within the city center and to White Sands Mall, Holloman Air Force Base and Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in Mescalero. Z-Trans is unusual in that it is privately owned (by Zia Therapy Center, a non-profit), although it does get some local and state subsidies.[157]

The Alamogordo city government is building a network of bike routes and walking routes. More information and maps are in the Alamogordo Comprehensive Plan.[158]:42-44 The New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Association operates a Rails to Trails project to convert old railroad beds to walking trails. Its trail system in Otero County, the Cloud Climbing Rail Trail, is planned to eventually surround Alamogordo.[158]:45[159]


Electric power is supplied within the city by PNM Resources.[138] PNM also provides electrical power in the Tularosa Basin, while Otero County Electric Cooperative, a member cooperative of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and of Touchstone Energy, serves other areas of the county.[160] Natural gas is supplied within the city by New Mexico Gas Company, a subsidiary of Continental Energy Systems.[138] City of Alamogordo operates the water system within the city limits. Rural houses have individual wells. The city system includes a sewage treatment plant to reclaim the sewer water. The reclaimed water is used to water Desert Lakes Golf Course and city parks and is sold to construction companies for dust control.[161]

Alamogordo has a dark sky ordinance to reduce the amount of light pollution in the night skies.[120]:Article 31 The ordinance was passed in 1990 to promote the growth and scientific productivity of Apache Point Observatory.[162] City streetlights are high-pressure sodium vapor lamps.[163]


Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center serves Alamogordo and Holloman Air Force Base

Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center is a private not-for-profit 99-bed general hospital that serves the Alamogordo area. The hospital is a shared military/civilian facility that is also the hospital for nearby Holloman Air Force Base.[164]

The Otero County Community Health Council prepares a detailed health profile[165] each year with many facts and figures about health in Otero County. Otero County is ranked in the middle of most health rankings within the state. New Mexico is near the bottom of most national rankings, for example it was 38th in the United Health Foundation 2007 report, but has been slowly improving (it was 40th in 2005).[166] When heath-promoting features are considered, instead of the healthiness of the population, Alamogordo is ranked as one of the 50 healthiest places to live in the United States, among six in New Mexico.[167]:frontispiece [167]:116-118 Civic boosters such as the Chamber of Commerce publicize this ranking.[46]

Notable natives and residents

Among scientists, Edward Condon, a physicist and a past director of National Institute of Standards and Technology, was born in Alamogordo.[168] Alan Hale, an astronomer and co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp, grew up in Alamogordo and lives in nearby Cloudcroft.[169]

Among politicians, Edwin L. Mechem, a past Governor of New Mexico and past United States Senator from New Mexico, was born in Alamogordo,[170] as was Cindy Chavez, a past member of the San Jose, California City Council.[171]

See also


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