Monday, May 14, 2012

Niels Bohr on skis

Courtesy Los Alamos Historical Society.
Niels Bohr was a principal early atomic scientist, responsible for a number of discoveries including U-235, the isotope of uranium responsible for slow fission, and a resident of Los Alamos during the war years as part of the British mission. He became concerned about an atomic arms race very early and urged international sharing and control of atomic secrets to avoid one.

As Pajarito Mountain didn’t open until 1957, I assume this photo was not taken there. Do any readers know where folks went skiing during the war?

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  1. Sawyer Hill which, when the forest reopens, is accessed from a pullout on the right side of NM4, very soon after the parking lot for the Apache Spring Trail. It is in the Las Conchas wildfire burn area.

    A Short History of Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is found here:

    Another resource is the book "Just Crazy to Ski: A Fifty-Year History of Skiing at Los Alamos" by Deanna Morgan Kirby.

    Here's a link to a November 27, 2007 Santa Fe New Mexican article "A labor of love: Pajarito Ski Area marks its 50th season" which gives details about Sawyer Hill:

    Thanks for all your work on Los Alamos Daily Photo! I really enjoy the variety of photos!


  2. thanks for sharing.

  3. From Kyle Wheeler:

    “You ask about where people skied here before 1957. It was at Sawyer's Hill, on the road to the Jemez. Check out the book, ‘Just Crazy to Ski,’ by Deanna Kirby. The person who took this photo would not claim it for many years because the fact that Bohr was in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project was a big secret, and the photographer was worried he would be subject to penalties for taking this picture. It is another interesting part of our local history. Sawyer's Hill was not a good spot for skiing: it was too low, too exposed to the sun, etc. When skiers realized how much more snow Pajarito Mountain gets, they hustled over there and built the mountain we have enjoyed since 1957.”