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Los Alamos Hockey’s History Of Energetic Volunteers

Los Alamos Ranch School students playing hockey on the pond. Courtesy/Los Alamos Historical Society

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Los Alamos Historical Society

Hockey has been part of Los Alamos for more than 100 years.

One of the most iconic historic pictures in the community’s history is of a match at the Los Alamos Ranch School, with the students at the prestigious all-boys prep school playing hockey on a pond—in shorts, which they wore year ‘round. The Los Alamos History Museum proudly displays a set of hockey shin guards from those active boys.

Los Alamos, of course, is most famous as the site of the top-secret World War II laboratory that developed the atomic bombs. The original ice rink, built by Ranch School staff and students in a canyon adjacent to the school, remained a popular recreational destination throughout the war. After World War II, the town was taken over by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which worked hard to provide recreational amenities in the isolated mountain community.

In 1950, the ice rink moved 1,500 feet west to a more shady spot in the canyon and was expanded from 60 feet wide and 110 feet long to 78 feet wide by 178 feet long. The Los Alamos Skating Association was incorporated in 1953 and, while the original funding came from the AEC, the organization’s goal was to become self-sufficient through membership charges. In those days, a season-long family membership cost $9, and children could skate for ten cents.

Over the decades, thousands of volunteer hours were put in for rink construction and maintenance as well as administration of the skating and hockey associations. The rink has also been expanded to regulation size for hockey, and, while the old buildings, locker rooms, and restrooms need some attention, it is the only outdoor regulation-size rink in the state of New Mexico.

The first Zamboni in Los Alamos was famous in its own right. The fourth machine to come off the assembly line at the Zamboni factory, it toured as part of the Ice Capades in the 1950s. After retiring from that work and spending some time at an ice rink in Albuquerque, “OLD No. 4” headed up to Los Alamos where it served from 1960-1973. A fire in the storage garage almost proved the end of the old Zamboni,. However, when folks at the Zamboni factory heard about its adventures, they requested the unit be returned for refurbishment and eventual inclusion in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, MN.

Over time the ice rink changed hands and is now owned, operated, and maintained by Los Alamos County. Throughout the winter months, the rink is lit up early in the morning until late at night as the crack of stick against puck and the swish of blades over ice accompany hockey practices for all ages.

The long history of ice skating and hockey in Los Alamos may be summed up as a tale of energetic volunteers and shared effort that has brought joy to thousands over the years. 

For further information on the rink, go to the Los Alamos Hockey Association’s website at

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To provide the United States with a shrine to American hockey that reflects the honor, dignity and pride of the legends that it represents.

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