DISCOVER OUR SECRETS: Take a tour off the beaten path

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By Kirsten Laskey

There’s more to see in Los Alamos than just what can be spotted through the windshield of your car. There are several walking and bus tours that take visitors off the main drag and onto unbeaten paths.

Los Alamos Historical Museum offers a tour that provides the complete history of Los Alamos. Museum Director Hedy Dunn said highlights of the tour include the Tewa ancestral pueblo, which dates back to 1225; Fuller Lodge; a memorial of the Ice House, which housed nuclear components for the Trinity device; and the World War II Army cafeteria that now serves at the Los Alamos Little Theater.

The tour is only about one mile in length, and “you see a lot of different aspects of our history,” Dunn said.

She added the tour was started in 1979 as Boy Scout John Polzer’s Eagle Scout project. Dunn said she remembers Polzer asking what he could do for his project and Dunn recommended a historic tour.

The tour is self-guided and is in a newspaper tabloid format that can be downloaded off Los Alamos Historical Society’s website, www.losalamoshistory.org. It is also available at the historical museum, located 1921 Juniper St.; the Bradbury Science Museum, at 15th Street and Central Avenue; and at Fuller Lodge, located at Central Avenue and Bathtub Row.

Dunn said the tour seems to be a popular activity for people.

“It seems to be quite an interesting aspect of our offerings,” she said.

There is another way to explore Los Alamos is from Georgia Strickfaden’s Buffalo Tours bus.

Buffalo Tours offers several tours, Strickfaden said. She offers Tour the Atomic City daily; the bus leaves at 1:30 p.m. from Otowi Station Bookstore and Science Museum. The tour, Strickfaden said, covers history, archeology, geology and Los Alamos National Laboratory. She also takes tourists to White Rock. The tour takes an hour-and-a-half and costs $15 per person.

Strickfaden also transports people off of the Hill. For instance, Off the Hill Manhattan Project takes visitors to places the Manhattan Project personnel experienced during the WWII years. The tour includes the Lamy train station, pertinent Santa Fe sites and old roads to Los Alamos.

Additionally, a tour called the Jemez Trail Excursion goes through the Jemez Mountains and shows participants the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Bandelier National Monument, Historic Villages of northern New Mexico, Ghost Ranch and Abíquíu are other destinations.

Prices vary; a half-day costs $80 and a full day costs $160.

Strickfaden said she has operated Buffalo Tours since 1985 and “I’ve always enjoyed interpreting the area.”

Strickfaden has a long history introducing Los Alamos to people. Before starting Buffalo Tours, she worked as a public liaison for LANL, showing the area to prospective employees.

Strickfaden said she enjoys her work because “I think our history is unique and has a lot of depth to it.”

Plus, it has a great access to other areas such as Bandelier, the Valles Caldera and the pueblos, Strickfaden said.

To get onboard, call Strickfaden at 662-2965, visit buffalotours.home.att.net or e-mail buffalotours@att.net.

Read more DISCOVER OUR SECRETS articles in the May 14, 2008, print edition of the Monitor.