During a break at the recent ABA State and Local Government Law Fall meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we took a short ride up to the town of Los Alamos for a little "nuclear tourism" at the site of the current National Lab, and, of course, the place where the first two atomic bombs were designed and build in World War II. Los Alamos was chosen as the site because it was remote, away from the prying eyes of foreign spies and the American public. That's still probably true.
So we're at the Bradbury Science Museum, when colleague Dwight Merriam pointed out the above letter, which tells us how the U.S. Government acquired the land it needed for the Manhattan Project. In case you can't read the photo, here's a transcription of the letter:
War DepartmentWashingtonDEC -- 1 1942Mr. A.J. Connell
President and Director
Los Alamos Ranch School
Espanola, New MexicoDear Sir:You are advised that it has been determined necessary to the interests of the United States in the prosecution of the War that the property of the Los Alamos Ranch School be acquired for military purposes.Therefore, pursuant to existing law, a condemnation proceeding will be instituted in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico to acquire all of the school's lands and buildings, together with all personal property owned by the school and used in connection with its operation. Although the acquisition of this property is of the utmost importance in the prosecution of the war, it has been determined that it will not be necessary for you to surrender complete possession of the premises until February 8, 1943. It is felt that this procedure will enable you to complete the first term of the regular school year without interruption.You are further advised that all records pertaining to the aforesaid condemnation proceeding will be sealed, by order of the Court, and public inspection of such records will be prohibited. Accordingly, it is requested that you refrain from making the reasons for the closing of the school known to the public at large.Sincerely yours,/s/ Henry L. Stimson
Secretary of War
Which only proves that we can find an eminent domain angle just about anywhere.
Just so you understand that we're not totally tunnel-visioned, here are a couple of photos that perhaps give a more accurate representation of New Mexico.