Los Alamos: Kind of Creepy

I try to keep this blog mostly on topic, as you know, Squiders, but sometimes I wander. Today is one of those days.

My family and I went down to New Mexico for a long weekend this past weekend. We set up headquarters in Santa Fe, and on Sunday we headed out into the desert to go see Bandelier National Monument (still trying to make that National Parks pass pay–we’re up to $71 out of $80) because apparently every seven years or so I like to climb around in cliff dwellings, and we thought we’d swing by Los Alamos on the way back.

Now, because we’ve worked in defense, Los Alamos is kind of a household name around these parts. But if you’re unfamiliar, Los Alamos National Laboratory is where we created the atomic bomb. To this day, it still does research on nuclear energy/weapons, energy in general, and assorted other things. It is also massive and, for the most part, classified. There’s actually a road that goes through a bit of the lab that we took from Bandelier to the town and there was a guard house and they checked our IDs and everything.

Los Alamos the town was founded for the scientists during WWII. It was top secret and its existence wasn’t revealed until after the war. All mail for the town went to a PO Box in Santa Fe, and scientists traveled under false names and referred to Los Alamos as “The Hill” or “Site Y.” That part’s all very cool, actually. And all the streets in town are atomic bomb-related: Trinity, Oppenheimer, Atomic.

So why was it creepy? Because there was no one there. Los Alamos itself is very clean and has a lot of new-looking buildings, including a giant library and a science museum. It has great parks and lots of shops and…there was no one out walking. This was a beautiful, sunny Sunday. It was 70 degrees out.

I saw a handful of cars, a few people at the museum, the guard in the guardhouse…and that was it.

Now, no doubt there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Wikipedia tells me that White Rock on the other side of the lab is technically the same town as Los Alamos, and there was plenty of people there, so maybe most people live there. It’s a little off-season for tourists. Maybe most of the shops and the library are closed on Sundays so there’s no reason for residents to venture out.

Who knows? I just found the combination of the history of the town, the gigantic secret laboratory, and the lack of people to be fascinating.

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