November 2 – 13, 20
Lunch ended with a minor mishap, which was that a glob of secret sauce and fish oil leaked from the sandwich, strategically missing the towel I had spread in my lap (we put together a kit for the car with two sets of silverware, lap towels and wash clothes to use as napkins), leaving a stain on my Dogfish Brewing Patagonia T-Shirt, that would not come out despite repeating washings. Fortunately, the shirt was still available online and I replaced it when we returned home.
We next drove a few blocks to the Tularosa Basin Museum, which is owned and operated by the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. As we entered, a charming woman greeted us with a brief overview of the museum and invited us to spend as much time as we wanted perusing its exhibits.
The prize item in the collection is a 47-star U. S. flag; New Mexico was admitted to the union as the 47th state on January 6, 1912, followed by Arizona as the 48th state on February 14, 1912. The Flag Act of 1818 specifies “That on the admission of every new state into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect of the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission.” On July 4, 1912, the official flag design jumped from 46 to 48 stars, and there never was an official 47-star flag.
The provenance of the museum’s 47-star flag is unknown, although it presumably was manufactured to celebrate New Mexico’s entry into the Union. The flag hung for many years in a bar in Blue Lake, California. The bar owner, Wade Topping, a former resident of Alamogordo, recognized the significance of the flag and donated it to the museum in 1999.
The museum collection holds personal accounts, relics and over 3,000 photographs of local history, as well as a bison trophy head, a display devoted to Holloman Air Force Base, an exhibit containing items recovered from the Manhattan Project Trinity Test Site and artifacts from prehistoric Native American tribes that were found in caves above Alamogordo.
There is a nice display of pottery from the La Luz Pottery Factory, a former factory in La Luz, New Mexico. The site there includes three houses; an adobe warehouse and kiln, a clay processing plant, and storerooms, which were built circa 1929. The factory, founded by Rowland Hazard, made roof and floor tiles as well as pots until it closed down in 1942. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in May, 1979.
We closed out our visit by stopping at the gift shop, which sits in a room that formerly housed the building’s pharmacy and soda fountain. We left the museum with just a few hours left in the afternoon and decided against driving up to La Luz to check out the pottery factory site, instead opting to cool out at the KOA as the next two days would be full of driving on our way to Kansas City.
After our relaxing afternoon we made our way to 575 Brewing Company for a beer before dinner. It’s a really nice location with a spacious and airy indoor seating area bracketing a U-shaped bar and larger outdoor area, with canopies for shade and a stage at the end of the lot to accommodate a band.
We enjoyed a round of their good product and discussed how a successful brewery is a reflection of the community it serves. Out here in the desert in a small community, I’m not sure a good craft beer maker is the sign of enlightenment amongst the populace, but I would like to think that a taste for good beer indicates a higher order of intelligence.
Now ready for dinner, we drove a short distance to Can’t Stop Smokin’ BBQ which had garnered positive reviews on Trip Advisor. We ordered the Pete’s Pick combo and added a Peach Cobbler for dessert with nothing to drink as they didn’t serve beer or wine. As luck would have it, we had a couple of beers in the car in the cooler and so enjoyed those with the meal.
Our “Pick” included beef ribs, pulled pork, sliced brisket, and sausage along with two sides (Cole Slaw and a very good German Style Potato Salad), a small ear of corn and corn bread. It was all quite good and a relative bargain at $17. The only disappointment was the cobbler, a congealed gloppy mess with a terrible crust and tasteless peaches. But rest assured, we ate all of it.
And that would finish our visit to Alamogordo, time well spent in a seemingly innocuous place whose subtle charms enchanted us. Like many small towns around the country, a combination of a college, military base, and natural attractions elevated it to a place you’d be willing to spend time in rather than just glance at as you drove through it.
Tularosa Basin Museum: https://www.facebook.com/tularosabasinmuseumofhistory/
La Luz Pottery Factory: https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/la-luz-pottery/
575 Brewing Company: http://575brewing.co/
Can’t Stop Smokin’ BBQ: https://cantstopsmokinbbq.com/