Historic Ranch House Open Twice a Year at Trinity Site

mcdonald-ranch-house-loc-113919-blogSeventy years ago, the McDonald-Schmidt Ranch House at the White Sands Missile Range (adjacent to the White Sands National Monument) in Socorro County, New Mexico, was where scientists assembled the first atomic bomb on July 13, 1945. Three days later a “Fat-Man” type bomb, similar to the one that would be dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. The McDonald-Schmidt house had been neglected for decades until it was restored in 1984 to its appearance in 1945. German immigrant Franz Schmidt built the house in 1913 and sold it to the McDonald family in the 1930s. The McDonalds had homesteaded in the territory in the 1870s and 1880s, eventually owning four ranches in the area, including the one with the house Schmidt built. The McDonalds were contemporaries of Oliver Lee, Pat Garrett, Jim Gililland and A.J. Fountain, with the McDonald Ranch next door to Gililland, who with Lee was accused and acquitted of the infamous Fountain murders. During World War II, the ranches were taken for military operations on the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range. The bunkhouse was the first building damaged by an atomic blast. For more information on touring the historic McDonald-Schmidt Ranch House at the Trinity Site on the first Saturday of April and October, the only days of the year it is open to the public, go to www.wsmr.army.mil/PAO/Trinity/Pages/default.aspx.

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