• Lines in the Sand: An Environmental History of Cold War New Mexico

      Isenberg, Andrew C. (Andrew Christian); Farber, David R.; Bailey, Beth L., 1957-; Immerman, Richard H.; Warren, Louis S. (Temple University. Libraries, 2008)
      This dissertation explores the complex interactions between the Cold War military-scientific apparatus, the idea of a culture of the Cold War, and the desert environment of the Tularosa Basin in south-central New Mexico. During and after World War II, the War Department and then the Department of Defense established several military reserves in the region. The massive White Sands Missile Range (at 3,200 square miles the largest military reserve in North America and larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined) and other military attachés would increasingly define the culture and economy of the Tularosa Basin. Historians have cast places such as White Sands Missile Range as cratered wastelands. Yet the missile range and surrounding military reserves became a contested landscape that centered on the viability of the nonhuman natural world. Diverse communities sought to find their place in a Cold War society and in the process redefined the value of a militarized landscape. Undeniably, missile technology had a profound impact on south-central New Mexico and thus acts as a central theme in the region's postwar history. However, in the years after 1945, environmentalists, wildlife officials, tourists, and displaced ranchers, amongst many others, continued to find new fangled meanings and unexpected uses for the militarized desert environment of south-central New Mexico. The Tularosa Basin was not merely a destroyed landscape. The design and sheer size of the missile range compelled local, national, and transnational voices to not just make sense of the economic implications of the missile range and surrounding military sites, but to rethink its cultural and environmental values in a changing Cold War society. It was a former home to ranchers still tied to the land through lease and suspension agreements. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish personnel cast the site as perfect for experimentation with exotic big game. Environmentalists and wildlife biologists saw the site as ideal for the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf. Tourists came to know the landscape through the simple obelisk at the Trinity Site. While missiles cratered the desert floor, the military bureaucracy did not hold absolute power over the complex interactions between cultures, economies, and the nonhuman natural environment on the postwar Tularosa Basin.