As adapted from the Ariz. and N.M. AAA TourBook, 2001 ed., p. 148
In 1942 the federal government selected the rustic and remote Los Alamos Ranch School for Boys as the top secret, maximum-security site for the Manhattan Project, an atomic bomb research and testing program where Little Boy and Fat Man the atomic bombs that ended World War II were designed and built. By 1945, when the first atomic device was detonated at Trinity Site (near Alamogordo, N.M.), more than 3,000 civilian and military personnel were working at the laboratory. Several of these Manhattan-era veterans remain active members of Pajarito Lodge.
Due to the nature of the work done in Los Alamos, the town remained a closed community, under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission, until the late 1950s. Every man, woman, and child over twelve years of age had to present a security pass to enter or leave the county limits.
Today, Los Alamos National Laboratory continues to apply science to issues of national security, technological and economic strength, and energy development. Its staff of nearly 9,000 conducts extensive research into technology associated with nuclear weapons, deterrence, and nonproliferation; energy production; health, safety and environmental concerns; mathematics; computer science; chemistry; physics; and life sciences.
Explosions of another sort helped to create the isolated setting that was so necessary for the Manhattan Project. About a million years ago, the volcano vents that had build the Jemez Mountains issued 100 cubic miles of ash and pumices, then collapsed. The result is the Valles Caldera, one of the larges measured calderas on earth, covering 148 square miles, with a rim averaging 500 feet above its floor.
State Route 4, about 15 miles west of Los Alamos, outlines the craters southern curve and permits views into its vast, grassy bowl. The erupted ash hardened into a layer of tuff, the Pajarito Plateau, characterized by a remoteness that is protected by the finger canyons that serrate its edges. With the plateau, Bandelier National Monument contains extensive, prehistoric Anasazi Indian ruins.
History of Pajarito Lodge #66
As adapted from LaMoine Langston, A History of Masonry in New Mexico, Darrell Swayze, ed. (Hall-Poorbaugh Press, Roswell, NM, 1977), p. 262, 263.
Though relatively new by Masonic standards, Pajarito Lodge has an unusual history reflective of the constraints imposed by the top-secret Manhattan Project. There were many Masons, of course, among those scientists, engineers, and servicemen brought to the remote Pajarito Plateau in 1943 to develop the first atomic bomb, but a Masonic lodge did not begin at Los Alamos until after the end of World War II. All known Master Masons on The Hill, as Los Alamos was colloquially known, were invited to attend a meeting on Aug. 19, 1946 to form a Masonic Club. There were thirteen Master Masons in attendance. An executive committee was appointed, headed by Albert Thomas as President; Verlin Lefler, Vice President; Joseph P. Adams, Secretary-Treasurer; and including Denver D. Littleton and Lester J. Martin. A constitution and bylaws were adopted at a later meting an practice stated in degree work.
A decision was made at the Dec. 10 meeting to seek a dispensation, which was granted February 15, 1947. Grand Master Frank J. Fitch installed Verlin Lefler as Master. Thirty-six Masons secured demits from their former lodges and became charter members of Pajarito. The charter was granted May 21, and the lodge set to work under charter June 14, 1947. Grand Master Rupert Asplund instituted the lodge and installed Denver Littleton as Master. During this period Los Alamos remained a closed city, and no one could enter the town without a government pass (alas even K.S.s reportedly would not suffice), lending new meaning to the phrase traveling in foreign countries.
During its first nine months, Pajarito Lodge conferred 148 degrees and ended its first year with a membership of eighty Master Masons. In 1975 the lodge had a membership of nearly 300. In 2007, membership stood at 84, and the lodge remains very active with weekly breakfasts, monthly potlucks and charity breakfasts, and sustained support of the American Cancer Societys Relay for Life.
Several Grand Masters have hailed from Pajarito Lodge, including John R. Mendius in 1975, a plural member of Pajarito; Herman Rosen in 1980; and Honorary Grand Master Ronald Brinkman, who also served many years as Grand Lecturer and Grand Secretary.
Celebrating its diamond anniversary in June 2007, Pajarito Lodge is proud to number several Manhattan-era scientists among its active membership.