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In 1898, the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad established New Mexico's first preplanned development community at Alamogordo. This city and its satellite communities of Tularosa, La Luz, and Cloudcroft are the only urban settlements in an area almost as large as Connecticut--the vast deserts and mountains of the Tularosa Basin are where people "climb for water and dig for wood." Alamogordo became the county seat after Otero County was created to modify the trial venue for the murder of Albert Fountain and his son Henry. West Texas ranching families moved into the Tularosa Basin in the 1880s and depended on ranching, farming, and tourism until World War II led to the creation of the Alamogordo Army Air Field (Holloman Air Force Base) and White Sands Proving Ground, the birthplace of the U.S. space and missile program. The first atomic explosion, Trinity, took place in White Sand's northwest corner on July 16, 1945. Col. John Stapp, pioneer of aerospace medicine, rode rocket sleds at the Holloman Test Track, leading to modern automotive seat belts.
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