“Assassins, Spies, and the Manhattan Project” Walking Tour

Assassins, Spies & the Manhattan Project Walking Tour

Discover locations in historic downtown Santa Fe connected with three of the Soviet Union's biggest espionage successes. Learn how Zook's Pharmacy became the base of operations for the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940. Stand near the bridge where Klaus Fuchs met Harry Gold to deliver atomic secrets taken from Los Alamos in 1945. Walk part of the route used by Edward Lee Howard, a fired CIA operative turned Soviet informer, during his escape to Moscow in 1985. The tour will also include an overview and stories of the scientists, spies and other people connected with Manhattan Project operating in and around Santa Fe.

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Discover the Manhattan Project
with Museum-Trained Docents

Your guide will transport you back in time to experience Santa Fe as it was in the 1940s. You will learn spycraft techniques which were actually used to coordinate meetings, confirm identities and transfer information between spies and their couriers during the Manhattan Project. You will visit the Santa Fe office for the Manhattan Project where gate passes were issued and transportation was arranged to take arriving scientists and their families “up the hill” to Los Alamos. Several anecdotes and vintage images will bring out the human side of this important period of Santa Fe history. Our volunteer docents are the only Santa Fe tour guides trained under the auspices of the New Mexico History Museum, with dozens of hours classroom time, self-study, and supervised practice. You only experience the true stories and genuine facts of Santa Fe's extraordinary connection with these important historic events.

All tour proceeds are donated to the New Mexico History Museum to support educational programs and exhibitions.

Tour Times and Pricing

Tours are offered two Saturdays per month at 10:45 AM.  Click “Get Ticket” to view the calendar, make reservations, and purchase tickets.

Tours start beside the entrance to the New Mexico History Museum, 113 Lincoln Avenue, one-half block north of the Santa Fe Plaza. We ask that you arrive at 10:30 AM so the tour can begin promptly.

Our tours are an amazing value! Fees are $25 for adults 18 and older, $15 for children 8 to 17, and no charge for children under 8.

Custom and Group Tours

Custom and group tours can be scheduled at your convenience (major holidays excepted).  Regular tour fees apply with a $150 minimum.  Dates and times are subject to docent availability. For information contact [email protected].

Friends of History members receive a 20% discount for themselves and the guests who accompany them; members, please email us at [email protected] to book.

Where to Park

Because many on-street parking meters have a two-hour limit, we recommend that you park in one of the public parking structures or lots. Click here for a map of parking areas.

Where to Meet

Meet your docent at the Lincoln Avenue entrance to the New Mexico History Museum, 113 Lincoln Avenue, outside in the covered area to the left of the blue door.  

Highlights

Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Santa Fe will provide you with an overview of the Manhattan Project, introduce some of the scientists who contributed to the success of the Manhattan Project, and identify the Soviet agents and couriers who were able to pass critical atomic secrets from the Manhattan Project on to Moscow.  Other sites connected with important Soviet espionage successes will also be visited and explained.  On your tour, our well-trained and historically knowledgeable guides will lead you on an unforgettable journey of espionage in Santa Fe during World War II and the Cold War.

Tours visit several historic sites and structures.  On the one-mile walk you will discover:

  • Why Santa Fe became the base of operations for the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940.
  • What the Manhattan Project was and how Los Alamos was selected to be one of its key sites.
  • How General Leslie R. Groves was selected to lead the Manhattan Project and why he selected J. Robert Oppenheimer as the Director for Site Y in Los Alamos focusing on the development of the “gadget”.
  • Why an unassuming little office at 109 East Palace Avenue was crucial to the success of the Manhattan project and the birth of the Atomic Age.
  • What security measures were in place during the Manhattan Project and why some of them did not always work.
  • Who the spies and couriers were, their motivations for stealing atomic secrets, and what happened to them after the war.
  • What secrets were delivered during a meeting at Castillo Bridge and the effect this had on the discussions between Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference.
  • Where you can have dinner in Santa Fe just as a fired CIA-operative turned Soviet-informer did before his elaborate escape to Moscow.
"Both the man of science and the man of action live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it." J. Robert Oppenheimer