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Book on White Sands Missile Range hits shelves
By Tom Fuller   - 02/02/2009

Las Cruces Sun-News

More Info on This Book: White Sands Missile Range

A new pictorial history titled "Images of America: White Sands Missile Range" hit the shelves of local bookstores this month, the fruit of many hours of labor by the director of the Missile Range museum.

Published by Arcadia press, the book covers the history of the Missile Range since its founding in 1945 in pictures. The author, Darren Court, is giving all the profits from the book sales to the White Sands Historical Foundation.

When Court took over as WSMR's museum director in May 2007, he could find no single book that put the rich history of the Range into one volume for easy reference. He found many historical papers, including much material about the Trinity site. He even found writings about the ranchers who lived on and worked the land now occupied by the Missile Range, but there was no compilation of WSMR's history.

In the fall of 2007, Court decided that he was in the position to meet the need of the many visitors and researchers who have asked for "the White Sands book." He e-mailed the proposal to Arcadia Press, the publisher of a book he had co-authored with other graduate students while in the New Mexico State University Public History program in 2006.

"I got an answer right away," Court said. "They thought it was a fantastic idea. They would love to do it. They ran it by their editorial board who jumped at the idea."

For the next eight months Court took his lunch hour and any free time he had after work selecting photos, scanning them and researching photo captions. "In our archives we have about 10,000 documents and photographs catalogued," said Court. "I would go there and spend time looking through the archives, photos and things. It's amazing the number of photos we have." Many of the photos that were used in the book are previously unpublished, he said. He submitted the first draft in August, and the first books were delivered on Jan. 12.

Now on sale at the Museum Gift Shop and several local bookstores, the money raised will go to the White Sands Historical Foundation. "The job of the historical foundation is to raise money to build a new museum building, which is greatly needed," he said. "Since all the photos (in the book) are from either our vertical files here at the museum or the archives, all the money that I get from the book is going to be turned over ... "

Aside from the general public, Court said the book is also for the people who have lived and worked at WSMR and who have contributed to its history.

"White Sands has had a need for a book like this for a long time," said Monte Marlin, WSMR public affairs officer. "Darren has done a wonderful job of collecting and captioning images that reflect not only highlights of missile range history, but also its special personality."

Dennis Dekker, WSMR's director of family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said the book displayed Court's conviction to preserving the knowledge of WSMR's contributions. "The fact that Darren is donating all proceeds from his book to the Historical Foundation's construction fund for a new museum speaks volumes to his credibility and desire to perpetuate our history," Dekker said.

When asked how it felt to have his first book published, Court said it was exciting.

"I enjoyed doing it, and I would do it again, but I didn't do it for myself," he said. Court said the dedication in the book explains his feelings best: "This book is dedicated to the men and women whose lives shaped the history contained within these pages. Thank you all."

Buy It Now: White Sands Missile Range $21.99

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