White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) was born on July 9, 1945 as a post of old shacks and CCC buildings erected in three months. Within the first year, scientists were using rockets to reach higher into the atmosphere than ever before. Using the German V-2 rocket, they were able to propel instruments 100 miles straight up. At the same time, the nation’s first defensive missile systems were developed there. By 1960, there were 10,000 people working at WSMR.
Jim Eckles worked in the Public Affairs Office at WSMR for 30 years. While there he wrote and spoke extensively about the missile range mission and area history — both in-house and downtown. When he retired, he was informally called “WSMR’s historian.” He arrived early enough at WSMR to meet the pioneers who invented the idea of a missile range. His talk contains their stories of the golden age of WSMR.