Eugene Manlove Rhodes Room & Southwest Collection
The Rhodes room is named for the Western writer who loved the Tularosa Basin so intensely, he was able to write vivid prose about the region in a way that has inspired a generation. Rhodes' works continue to inspire writers today, particularly those working in the Western genre. Alamogordo and the surrounding area feature prominently in Rhodes' works.
The Eugene Manlove Rhodes Room houses the library's most treasured collections. The shelves are filled with local history books and papers, biographies of New Mexico's finest and most notorious citizens, and hundreds of volumes of celebrated New Mexico fiction.
Rhodes' Grave Site Tour
Eugene Manlove Rhodes, arguably the architect of Southwestern fiction, is laid to rest in his favorite spot in the San Andres Mountain’s canyon named for him. Rhodes, a writer by nature, lived and worked on ranches throughout the Jornada del Muerto and the Tularosa Basin. The San Andres range is the spine of the region and understandably his favorite place. The beautiful and unique panoramas inspired the location for the majority of Rhodes’ work. Along with the colorful characters, usually based on real people, the vivid lyrical descriptions of the landscape are the hallmark of Rhodes’ work.
Rhodes Canyon now lies in the heart of the White Sands Missile Range. While the US Army’s acquisition of the rich ranch land of Southern New Mexico is somewhat controversial, the Rhodes grave site is located in one of the best protected stretches of land in the continental US. The Army protects its assets and experiments with voracity; the Rhodes grave site is no exception. Security measures taken to protect WSMR extend to protecting the hallowed ground of Rhodes’ final resting place. The oryx, elk, and golden eagles are the area’s only frequent trespassers.
According to NM Statue 21-8-27, New Mexico State University is the custodian of the grave of Eugene Manlove Rhodes, “and shall be and hereby is given all lawful authority to enter upon the lot and assume responsibility therefor.” NMSU-Alamogordo fills the role of custodian by extension. NMSU-A facilitates an annual trek to Rhodes’ grave, in cooperation with the White Sands Missile Range. By registering through NMSU-A Community Education, anyone is able to join the annual pilgrimage, usually made in October. The tour, much like the bi-annual caravan to the Trinity Site, is escorted by WSMR personnel and requires valid photo identification for participants along with proper registration and proof of insurance for vehicles.
The trek is long, but well worth the effort; the scenery is stunning. The guided tour is designed to give participants plenty of time to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the grave site area. Participants are encouraged to bring a folding chair, sack lunch, and camera. (Photography at the grave site is welcome, but not allowed anywhere along the journey through the missile range.) The tour will pause at the grave site for about an hour, giving trekkers plenty of time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. NMSU-A Professor Pete Eidenbach, the tour’s de facto leader, will read from Rhodes’ work and lead a discussion thereof. Rhodes’ grave marker is nestled in a grove of juniper that offers shade and protection. The whole experience invites reflection and reverence for Rhodes, his work, and the inspirational landscape.
The tour is recommended to anyone with an interest in southern New Mexico history, literature, and geology.
Michael McGarrity Collection on Display
The Alamogordo Public Library is proud to display a permanent collection of Michael McGarrity’s books. The books and papers in the display were generously donated by Dr. David Townsend. Along with signed copies of all of McGarrity’s books, the display also features a unique typed manuscript of the first chapter of Hard Country. Mr. McGarrity read from this manuscript on a visit to the Alamogordo Public Library in October of 2011. He signed the manuscript and gifted it to Dr. Townsend, who donated it to the library in 2017.
McGarrity is one of New Mexico’s favorite authors. His books, modern police procedurals and family history novels, are mostly set in Southern New Mexico. The American West trilogy, Hard Country, Backlands, and Last Ranch, is a fictionalized history of the Tularosa Basin and the people who settled the region. The books are impeccably researched and feature some recognizable historical figures. Anyone who has lived in or visited Otero County will find the books’ settings enchanting and familiar.
All 16 of Michael McGarrity’s books are available for check out from the public library. Books are available in multiple formats including large print and audio. Ask the reference librarian to help you find the right title and format for you. Mr. McGarrity’s sixteenth book, Residue, featuring popular protagonist Kevin Kerney, was released October 30, 2018.