Photo: Joe Spivey 1959


US Highway 380, 15 miles west of Carrizozo, New Mexico

Staggering, almost unbelievable statistics are associated with this narrow gravel road. Between October 1953 and August 1959, thousands of soldiers and civilian VIPs, dignitaries and guests passed through this seemingly insignificant gateway. They followed the rough road for three or four miles to Red Canyon Range Camp. At the camp they were involved with the launching of more than 3,000 Nike Ajax missiles.

On 28 October 1953, Colonel Daniel A. O'Connor assumed command of the newly activated Red Canyon Range Battalion. On 4 April, 1955, Lt. Colonel John J. McCarthy took command of the battalion and remained in command until the camp closed on 10 August 1959. One of Lt. Col. McCarthy's dreams was "to widen that 15 foot wide cow trail into a real road with a military entrance." He succeeded.

When the camp was active, this gate was manned by Military Police 24/7. Today the guardhouse is gone and the gate is locked.