Learn how ranchland became White Sands Missile Range

The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits explaining our state’s agricultural and ranching heritage, in addition to a wide range of special presentations and programs.

October 11, 1 – 3 p.m.: Discovery Afternoon, Sheep and Wool

Meet a Navajo-Churro ewe from the museum’s flock, learn about her history, and work with her wool. Explore the changes in raising sheep and wool working over the years. Use carding tools to process the wool into roving. Learn how to weave on a loom and with your fingers and feel the thick wool, rich with lanolin. Learn when lambs are born, how sheep are sheared, how we care for them and what products we make from wool. This new educational program will be held on some Wednesday afternoons and was developed with home-school students in mind, but is open to all children. Recommended for ages five to 10, and parents are welcome to attend. The fee is $3 per person. Reserve your spot by calling LuAnn Kilday at 522-4100.

October 12, 7 p.m.: Culture Series, The Range: From Livestock to Missiles

The subject of the October Culture Series is ranching on what is now White Sands Missile Range — in the Tularosa Basin and in the San Andres and Oscura Mountain ranges — and how the ranchers lost their land to America’s military needs. The speaker is Jim Eckles, who spent 30 years (1977 – 2007) working in the Public Affairs Office at the Missile Range. Admission to this presentation in the museum’s theater is free.

During his time on the Range, Eckles saw the Space Shuttle Columbia land; followed the Noss treasure hunters into Victorio Peak; escorted dozens of ranch families to visit their old homes; experienced many ear-splitting explosions and missile launches; and probably has been to Trinity Site more than any other human being.

Eckles grew up in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska. He majored in psychology and English literature, and a master’s degree followed at the University of Washington. Eckles, who is on the White Sands Missile Range Historical Foundation board of directors, has published three books: “Pocketful of Rockets,” Trinity: The History of an Atomic Bomb National Landmark,” and “Deming New Mexico’s Camp Cody: A World War One Training Camp.”

October 14, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Border Archives Bazaar

The Border Archives Bazaar is a free, fun event for the community to interact with fascinating historical collections from the border region. The event brings together the resources from more than a dozen libraries, archives, and museums in the southern New Mexico and El Paso area.

There will be workshops and instruction on how to research genealogy and family history, how to preserve photographs and documents, and much more. Anyone attending this free event may also tour the museum for only $2.

Sponsored by the Border Regional Archives Group, the bazaar will feature historical manuscripts, photographs, maps, publications, films and more that highlight the unique history and culture of our region, and the role that archives play in preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Archivists, librarians, and museum curators will be on hand to discuss and answer questions about all topics of historical preservation.

October 18, 7 p.m.: Special Presentation, “Helluva Way to Treat a Soldier”

This is the story of the looting (grave robbing) of the Fort Craig cemetery and how one of the most prolific looters in the Southwest was finally stopped.

This 45-minute film presents the events that led to the investigations of looting and the removal of interments from the cemetery, and efforts undertaken to prevent further unauthorized disturbance and removal of human burials within the cemetery. The story of Thomas Smith, Private of the 125th United States Colored Troops, will be shared along with the process by which identification of David Ford (Company C 38th Infantry) and Levi Morris (Company B 9th Calvary) was made. Caleb Scott, also a member of the US Colored Troops, remains missing from the burial population.

Fort Craig is located above the Rio Grande, north of Truth or Consequences and south of Socorro. The ruins of the fort are open to the public and can be toured during regular hours. It was a military fort established in 1854 to protect travelers along the Camino Real before being decommissioned in 1886.

Leading the discussion of the film will be Dr. Jeffery Hanson (JRI vice president), who served as the Bureau of Reclamation Archaeologist during this time and was deeply involved in the criminal investigations and field efforts. Also, David Greenwald (JRI president), who directed the field efforts to collect information relating to the looting and directed the excavations and recovery all human remains, will introduce the film and address questions.

Following laboratory analysis, all human remains were reburied in the Santa Fe National Cemetery with honors. The film provides historical background, discusses law enforcement actions, and interviews participants in the recovery efforts and those with specific information regarding the looting activities. These investigations were carried out between 2005 and 2008.

October 25, 1 – 3 p.m.: Discovery Afternoon, From Vaquero to Cowboy

From the day’s beginning before the sun rises, to the day’s end after the sun sets, a cowboy’s job requires long hours and hard labor. In this program, students discover the cowboy’s life by considering: What was a cowboy’s day like? Where did they eat, sleep, and socialize? What did cowboys wear and what equipment did he use? What impact did the vaquero have on New Mexico? Students will find the answers to these questions, identify different cowboy gear, and explore how we have adapted English cowboy terms from Spanish words. This new educational program will be held on some Wednesday afternoons and was developed with home-school students in mind, but is open to all children. Recommended for ages five to 10, and parents are welcome to attend. The fee is $3 per person. Reserve your spot by calling LuAnn Kilday at 522-4100.

October 28, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Heritage Cooking, Day of the Dead Bread

Just in time for Day of the Dead, the museum’s Heritage Cooking Program features baking this festive, celebratory dessert bread in an 1890s vintage wood-burning cook stove. Visitors of all ages are welcome to join in the making of these classic loaves, which they can take home and share with friends and family. Complimentary copies of the traditional recipes also will be available, and supplies are furnished by the museum. To participate in this program, regular paid museum admission is required ($5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children 4 – 17).

New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road. For more information, call 522-4100 or check their website at nmfarmandranchmuseum.org.