Tips, leads, stories from travelers, plus Roadsideamerica.com Team reports on quirky museums, ironic monuments, and must-see oddities! Trip planning caution: Some tips may not be verified. Over time, attractions change, move, burn down. What's a vacation without a little risk? Submit your own tip.
Albuquerque, New Mexico - Tinkertown
We stopped here on our way up the mountain to Sandia Crest. I was in heaven! If you love antiques and collectibles, it's even better. I could have easily spent more time there looking at all of the intricate carvings behind the glass. There are a few buttons that when held down make items move within the scenes. Also, there's a real fortune telling machine, complete with a gypsy lady inside. Bring a few quarters along because there are plenty of gadgets and machines; besides the Fortune Teller, there's a handshake gauge, plus a couple that put out music. "Otto, The One Man Band" is spectacular!
There were walls built out of old glass bottles and cement, old license plates used to cover up uneven places along the wooden walkway, and horseshoes embedded in the concrete. Not to be forgotten is the Theodora R, which is an antique sailboat on display there that actually sailed around the world in 10 years. Fritz Damler donated the boat to the museum, and has written a book about his voyage.
If you're headed to Sandia Crest, plan to leave a couple of hours earlier and stop at Tinkertown on your way![Angela, 02/01/2007]
- 121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM
- I-40 exit 175. Drive north six miles on on Hwy 14. Turn left onto Hwy 536 (toward Sandia Crest). Drive 1.5 miles. Tinkertown will be on the left.
- April - Oct. daily 9 am - 6 pm. (Call to verify)
- Adults $3, Children 4-16 $1, Seniors (62+) $2.50
- RA Rates:
- Major Fun
Albuquerque, New Mexico - National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
Formerly the National Atomic Museum. Replicas of the A-bombs dropped on Japan, and geiger counters and flash goggles for sale in a well-stocked gift shop. Roadsideamerica.com Report...
- Albuquerque, New Mexico - Atomic Name Instantly Vaporized
National Museum of Nuclear Science and History: It's official: the National Atomic Museum has moved and changed its name to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. [04/08/2009] Complete Story...
Atomic Museum to Slough Off Radioactive Image
When the Sandia Atomic Museum opened at Kirtland Air Force Base in 1969, it displayed the most not-secret nuclear weaponry that the Cold War would allow, including an atomic torpedo. Its gift shop once sold civil defense manuals and atom bomb earrings.
The Museum was closed after 9/11 -- a victim of War on Terror security -- and in 2002 it moved to the Museum Row section of Albuquerque, and changed its name to the National Atomic Museum. That worked well -- until the Museum brought in a nuclear payload-ready Redstone rocket and stood it by the front door. Some citizens felt that downtown Albuquerque was no place for a 68-foot-tall atomic hell-candle.
Now the museum is moving again, to a 12-acre parcel of land back outside of the Air Force Base. It's changing its name again as well, to The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. The renaming "wasn't done for political correctness," we were told by director Jim Walther. "It was done to better describe the new museum's attempt to meet its whole mission."
Jim feels that the old Atomic Museum "didn't meet its mission very well because it was mostly about nuclear weapons." That, of course, is why we LIKED the old Museum, but Jim promised that the bombs and the rockets won't be going away -- they'll just be joined by exhibits on nuclear medicine, nuclear power, uranium mining, and other civilian and industrial topics. The Atomic Museum is, after all, America's only official atomic museum -- by decree of Congress -- and Jim sees that as a mandate "to carefully present a very balanced point of view."
"We're the Nordstrom of nuclear science!" he added cheerily, meaning that his museum will do its best to satisfy almost everybody.
Jim pledged that the Museum's copies of the first atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, will be kept on display. So will the Redstone rocket -- and the atomic torpedo. So, too, will most of the big exhibits that were left behind when the museum was moved downtown, such as an atomic cannon and the B-52 that dropped the last American H-bomb in 1962.
There will be an "atomic cars" exhibit as well, although they're not atomic-POWERED cars. They were just used to drive Manhattan Project scientists around in the desert, and one, a Plymouth, carried the plutonium core for the first A-bomb to the Trinity site. Does that Plymouth glow in the dark? Will it be displayed inside a ring of Geiger counters?
We weren't quick enough to ask those questions of Jim, but we were relieved to hear that the old Atomic Museum, while changing into what he called "a credible institution," isn't burying all of its commie-blasting hardware like so much unwanted nuclear waste.
The museum plans to make its move in March 2009. Jim hinted that it could sure use another $2 million in donations, just to make certain that the atomic cannon and the B-52 are up in time for the ribbon-cutting.[02/24/2008]
- Albuquerque, New Mexico - National Atomic Museum - Redstone Missile
In a comment regarding the Redstone missile in Warren, New Hampshire, Roadside America said that it was not aware of any other town exhibiting a Redstone missile. While technically true, for the past few years a Redstone missile has sat outside the National Atomic Museum in downtown Albuquerque. It has garnered much opposition from the neighborhood surrounding the museum. Some residents feel that it is simply an eyesore, while others have difficulty with what they feel is a symbol of war and destruction displayed so prominently. Recently, one city council member proposed a local law requiring that museum exhibits be prohibited from being taller than the museum, which would have effectively done away with the missile, but the act failed. So the missile still stands.[Michael Hess, 10/01/2005]