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Tales of the Pajarito Plateau

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By John Bartlit

The natural history of the Pajarito Plateau, home to Los Alamos, is as rare as its human history.
Peggy Pond Church lived on the plateau for years in intervals, first with her father, Ashley Pond II, who founded the Los Alamos Ranch School and whose name is on Ashley Pond, then later with her husband, Fermor Church.
In 1943, the plateau was a backdrop to suddenly different residents. The panorama is captured in sharply similar words from separate times.
Peggy Pond, the fledgling poet and author, wrote  in 1914:
“There was the enormous and unbelievably vivid blueness of the sky; the wide horizon that stretched in every direction as we drove down to the Pueblo from our steep plateau; the arid landscape, all sun-baked gullied hill, the pinkish earth dotted with juniper and pinion like cloves stuck into a roasting ham; the swirling mud-colored river and its inhospitable gravelly banks; the occasional groves of cottonwood trees; the rectangular forms of broken mesas, capped with dark purple lava; the sudden moist-looking dark green of alfalfa fields.”  
   Lansing Lamont’s book, Day of Trinity, described the environs of the earnest scientists who displaced the Church’s and the Ranch School in 1943:


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