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Otero History & Culture

Humans have lived in the Otero county for at least 11,000 years. The current settlement established in 1898 to support the construction of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, is an early example of a planned community. Tourism became an important economic factor with the creation of White Sands National Monument in 1934.

As the economic center of Otero County, Alamogordo has a primarily service and retail economy that draws its customers from tourists and from active-duty and retired military personnel. By some estimates, Holloman accounts for half the economy of Alamogordo. A branch of New Mexico State University, and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, make education also a significant contributor to the economy. A city’s gross receipts tax funds incentives for new businesses. Several films a year are shot partly in the Alamogordo area and the filming expenditures add to the economy. The New Mexico Museum of Space History, Lincoln National Forest, and White Sands National Monument are in or near the city. A hot-air balloon festival is held annually. Skiing is available in nearby Mescalero and Cloudcroft, and gambling is available at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in Mescalero.

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