Los Alamos Ranch School

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Los Alamos Ranch School
Fuller lodge los alamos.jpg
Address
2132 Central Avenue
Los Alamos, New Mexico
87544
United States
Information
Opened 1917
Closed January 22, 1943
Gender Unisex, Male
Age range 12-18
Average class size 6
Language English
Campus size 732 acres
Graduates 600+/-
Alumni Gore Vidal
William S. Burroughs
Website

Los Alamos Ranch School was a private ranch school for boys in Los Alamos County, New Mexico, USA, founded in 1917 near San Ildefonso Pueblo. During World War II, the school was bought and converted into the secret nuclear research campus for Project Y. The surrounding location has developed into the town of Los Alamos.

School[edit]

The school was founded in 1917 by a Detroit businessman, Ashley Pond II, father of Peggy Pond Church, the New Mexican poet and author.[1] It offered a program modeled after the Boy Scouts of America, combining a college preparatory curriculum with a rigorous outdoor life. All students were organized into patrols of Troop 22 and wore Scout uniforms & neckerchiefs. Obtaining First Class Rank in the Boy Scouts was a requirement for graduation.[2]

In 1939 the students' routine included calisthenics in the yard at 6:45 am, regardless of the weather; classes through 1 pm and athletic recreation in the afternoon. Students provided one half-day a week of "community service" (campus maintenance). Every Saturday was a mandatory all-day excursion on horseback into the surrounding countryside, often with overnight stays.[3]

New Mexican architect John Gaw Meem designed the school's Fuller House in 1928, constructed from some 770 ponderosa pine and aspen logs selected personally by Meem and the LARS director A.J. Connell.[4]

Over its 25-year existence, the School remained small, with yearly enrollment never exceeding 46 boys (aged 12 to 18 years), but its graduates were an impressive group. Famous alumni included William S. Burroughs, Gore Vidal,[1][5], anthropologist Edward T. Hall, Arthur Wood (president of Sears Roebuck) and the founder of the Santa Fe Opera, John Crosby.[6] Bill Veeck, owner of the Chicago White Sox, also attended but did not graduate.[7]

Manhattan Project[edit]

In November 1942, the school and the surrounding land were purchased by the United States Army's Manhattan Engineering District for use in the top-secret effort to develop the first atomic bomb. The school awarded its final diplomas in January 1943 and the Army took control of the property the following month.[1]

The site was chosen by Lieutenant General Leslie Groves for the Manhattan Project because of its isolation, access to water, ample space, pre-existing buildings which could be used for housing and the fact that much of the surrounding land was already owned by the federal government. It was also located on a mesa in which all entrances could be secured. The facility originally was referred to as "Site Y", but later became known as Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, then Los Alamos National Laboratory. During World War II, the school's Fuller Lodge and the Big House were used as social gathering places for Los Alamos project personnel and some other buildings were used for housing. The school buildings were known as "Bathtub Row" because they were the only houses in Los Alamos with bathtubs.[8]

The guest house is the site of the Los Alamos Historical Museum and has an extensive display on the school and its use of Scouting. The adjacent Fuller Lodge is open for visitor viewing and is frequently used for meetings or weddings. The Los Alamos Art Center is housed in the south wing by Central Avenue.

See also[edit]

  • The Day After Trinity, a 1980 documentary about the building of the first atomic bomb
  • When Los Alamos Was a Ranch School, a 1973 book by Peggy Pond Church
  • Los Alamos--the Ranch School years, 1917-1943, John D. Wirth (son of longtime Los Alamos master Cecil Wirth) and Linda Harvey Aldrich, University of New Mexico Press, 2003.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "History of the Los Alamos Ranch School" Archived 2008-04-15 at the Wayback Machine. - article from Los Alamos Historical Society, retrieved April 2, 2008
  2. ^ http://www.losalamoshistory.org/ranch_school.htm
  3. ^ Kaplan, Fred (23 April 2013). Gore Vidal A Biography. Open Road Media. p. 107. Retrieved 25 April 2018. 
  4. ^ Clark, Carol A. (12 February 2018). "History On Los Alamos Fuller Lodge". Los Alamos Daily Post. Retrieved 25 April 2018. 
  5. ^ William S. Burroughs (edited by James Grauerholz and Ira Silverberg; 1998), Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader, Grove Press, published 2000, ISBN 0-8021-3694-X, ISBN 9780802136947
  6. ^ Kozinn, Allan (December 17, 2002). "John Crosby, 76, Dies; Started Santa Fe Opera". The New York Times. New York. pp. B10. Retrieved 1 December 2009. 
  7. ^ K.R. Mason, Children of Los Alamos - An Oral History of the Town Where the Atomic Age Began,Twayne Publishers 1995, ISBN 0-8057-9138-8
  8. ^ "The Ranch School Closes Down", Los Alamos National Laboratory website

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°52′55″N 106°18′08″W / 35.88194°N 106.30222°W / 35.88194; -106.30222