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White Sands National Monument

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Like No Place Else on Earth

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that live here.

A Short History of White Sands National Monument

Formal recognition for the uniqueness of the white sands of southern New Mexico came on January 18, 1933, when President Herbert Hoover, acting under the authority of the "Antiquities Act of 1906", proclaimed and established a White Sands National Monument. The monument story, however, can be traced to the waning years of the 19th century and is linked to the nationwide growth of the "national park" idea that followed the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

The year 1876 marked the grand centennial for the United States, and the young nation was smarting from the lack of a "cultural heritage" to equal the European standard. Unable to match the traditional measures of art, architecture, or literature, American nationalists seized upon the grand scenic vistas, particularly found in the American West, as a source of national pride. As the century neared its close, these "treasures" were increasingly included in national parks.

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