The expansive nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington, where the federal government created radioactive material for the nuclear bomb at Nagasaki and for nuclear arms during the cold war, is now a national park, called the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The B Reactor, which made the world's first plutonium in 1944, was saved from the wrecking ball and is now the centerpiece of the historical park. It was defueled and decommissioned back in the 1960s and was lovingly cared for by volunteers until the Department of Energy gave its blessing to the park idea. Walking around the historic building gives visitors a sense of scientific history. Did you know that it was the first full-scale reactor of it's kind? That it was calculated to produce 100 million watts of power, but actually produced 250 million watts once it was turned on? That the first batch of plutonium went to a bomb test in New Mexico and the second to the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki? There is a lot to learn, even for the informed history buff.
The other piece of history is the 1500 people displaced to create the nuclear reservation. The two main towns of Hanford and White Bluffs were instant ghost towns after the government gave people just weeks to clear out. There was a global war on and it was a race to see who could produce a nuclear bomb. Included in the new national park are Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. See the video I produced about the park here.
Read the story by Mike Prager here.