Friday, February 22, 2013

Space Tour - Part 4, Roswell, NM

These aliens are NOT real!
While the International UFO Museum is interesting, I can't say it would convince the skeptic.  The story is told through a series of newspaper clippings and typed posters.  There are also photos of "evidence" submitted by those who have photographed UFOs (remember, this simply means an Unidentified Flying Object, not necessarily a spaceship).  Of course, there is no evidence of the crash other than testimonials of those who were supposed to be there - the rancher who originally found the crash site on his property, those who later found the alien bodies, and the military personnel who were involved in the removal of the craft and aliens first to Area 51 in Nevada and later to a base in Ohio.  Many of the civilians claim to have been threatened by members of the military to keep quiet about what they had seen; many of those involved made deathbed confessions insisting that the event was real.  The thing is, given our ability today to convincingly recreate aliens and spaceships (as they do in Hollywood every day), who wouldn't be skeptical if the actual space craft or alien bodies were shown to us?

Brad in Goddard's reconstructed workshop
Of other worthy note is the Robert H. Goddard rocketry exhibit at the Roswell Museum & Art Center.  Dr. Goaddard (1882-1945) tested many rockets in the 1920s and 1930s.  He started in Massachusetts, but after setting the woods on fire behind his aunt's house, he moved to New Mexico (where he often set the grasslands ablaze with his tests) with support from Charles Lindburgh and the financial backing of the Guggenheims.  Dr. Goddard was often ridiculed for his vision of putting a rocket into outer space, so he stayed out of the limelight as much as possible, another advantage granted him by living in New Mexico.  What I find surprising is that Dr. Goddard, the "father of modern rocketry", is the inventer of 214 patents, including those for harnessing solar energy, rockets installed in military airplanes, the turboprop, and magnetic levitation which is used in today's high speed trains in Europe and Japan.  Dr. Goddard's work was recognized in 1959 when NASA named one of their space centers in Maryland after him - the Goddard Space Flight Center and in 1961 when he posthumously received the Congressional Medal.

Another point of interest about Roswell:  German POWs were interned about 13 miles southeast of town during WWII.  The prisoners were put to work on local farms and in Roswell where they placed stone along the banks of the Spring River.  At one point they selected different sized rocks and made an iron cross in the bank.  Some locals were very upset by this and poured concrete over the cross.  The concrete has since washed away, revealing the cross.  We did not go see the cross as no one could tell us exactly where it is and how far it is to walk there (along the river hike and bike trail) and the winds in this area are brutal.  Wikipedia info on Roswell, the POWs and the Iron Cross.

Brad between two sinkholes at Bottomless Lakes SP
We camp at Bottomless Lakes State Park a few miles east of Roswell.  The lakes are not bottomless of course, but the deepest one is 90 feet.  They are really sinkholes, formed when water erodes the limestone under the ground and creates caverns (many caves are form this way) and later the earth above the holes caves in.  Natural underground springs feed most of the lakes.  There are about 10-12 of them, all different shapes and sizes; some even with a high salinity because they have no outlet other than evaporation.  This park is a great summer recreation area for camping, fishing and swimming.

One more interesting point about New Mexico - it is one of the major producers of chile peppers and they can be found at local farm stands throughut the state.  The town of Hatch calls itself the "Chile Capital of the World" and celebrates with a Chile Festival every fall.

And so ends our New Mexico Space Tour.  There are many other "space" sites in the state, but time is running out and we have to head for home.

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