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Tularosa Basin Historical Society
Our 47 Star Flag
Hanging on the wall of a tavern in Blue Lake in northern California, owned by a former Alamogordo resident, Mr. Wade Topping, was a piece of history. Made of fine wool, it has thirteen red and white stripes, with stars on a blue background in the upper left hand corner. In fact, it has five rows of eight stars and one row of seven. This unusual piece of history possibly ignored by the many patrons of the bar, but not its owner, was a 47 Star Flag depicting the entry of the state of New Mexico into the union of states. 

Mr. Topping counted the stars on the large flag three times. Each time his count was the same, 47! Knowing the history of New Mexico, the significance of the flag dawned on him. He decided to donate the flag to his hometown museum, the Tularosa Basin Historical Society Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico. 

47 Star Flag
In his speech to the Tularosa Basin Historical Society at the Flag Dedication in February, 1999, Mr. Topping stated, "I counted the stars and saw it was a forty-seven star flag. It immediately hit me. I said, ‘Boy! New Mexico and Arizona came in to the Union in 1912 right next to each other.’ " He not only donated the flag to the Museum, but fiscally assisted in placing the flag in its protective display case. 

On January 6, 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state to join the Union. Arizona quickly followed, becoming the 48th state on February 14, 1912. Therefore, there was never an official United States 47 star flag. This is done only in July of each year following a change in the number of states. However, someone somewhere produced a few 47 Star Flags in that short period of time. 

Another 47 Star Flag resides in the Museum at the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe. Curator Diana De Santis at the Palace has informed us that in researching their flag, she contacted Dr. Whitney Smith at the Flag Research Center. Dr. Smith stated that the Center did not have a 47 Star Flag, but he referred her to Mr. Nicholas Artimovich, a well known flag collector. 

He also stated that flag manufacturers normally jump the gun in producing flags for the forthcoming new states, but it doesn't appear to have occurred in this case. Thus, we presently know that there are only two 47 Star Flags in existence for the public to see and for researchers to study

Our 47 Star Flag, in its archival display case at the Museum, is on exhibit for all to see and enjoy. 

Special Note of Interest: In our Book Store, we sell a book entitled, New Mexico: A Distant Land, which has an article with pictures about our Museum and this flag.


The Tularosa Basin Historical Society Museum, Admission is FREE!
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK! Doors are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Museum is located in Alamogordo, New Mexico, next door to the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce. (See Photo & Map)
The Tularosa Basin Historical Society
1301 North White Sands Blvd.
Alamogordo, New Mexico  88310
Phone: 505-434-4438
E-mail : TBHS@ZiaNet.com
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