The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is making progress in its second full year of operation. The National Park Service and the local sites continue to develop exciting initiatives at the park’s three units: Oak Ridge, TN, Hanford, WA, and Los Alamos, NM.
On May 27, the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS) received $10,000 from the National Park Service’s Heritage Partnerships Program. The Heritage Partnerships Program supports efforts to preserve, interpret, and protect National Historic Landmarks. With these funds, LAHS will develop an interpretive plan for historic Fuller Lodge, where scientists and workers dined and held social events during the Manhattan Project. A longtime center for community, Fuller Lodge has been called the “heart and soul of Los Alamos.” U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Manhattan Project NHP superintendent Kris Kirby announced the award at an event in Los Alamos (photo, left, courtesy of Carol A. Clark, Los Alamos Daily Post.)
The event also highlighted the establishment of a new Friends Group for the Manhattan Project NHP. Friends Groups are nonprofit organizations that support national parks. In partnership with the National Park Service, Friends Groups organize volunteer opportunities, help raise funds for parks, develop educational initiatives, and much more. AHF is excited to work with the new Friends Group to support the Manhattan Project NHP.
LAHS and Los Alamos County also recently received the Edgar Lee Hewett Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico “for outstanding service to the people of New Mexico as related to New Mexico history.” The award highlights LAHS and the County’s work to preserve historic buildings such as Fuller Lodge and the Hans Bethe House, as well as the recent reopening of the renovated and expanded Los Alamos History Museum. The award ceremony was featured in the Los Alamos Daily Post.
The Museum is also moving forward with an initiative to foster dialogue between Los Alamos and the cities affected by the atomic bombs during World War II. An exhibit called “Culture and Collaboration: The Los Alamos/Japan Project,” now open through July, discusses multiple perspectives on the Manhattan Project and ways to build understanding between the U.S. and Japan. Visitors to the exhibit can create paper cranes that will be donated to Hiroshima and Nagasaki when two representatives of the Museum attend the annual commemorations of the atomic bombings on August 6 and August 9. The following month, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Director Dr. Kenji Shiga will visit Los Alamos for the first time.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (right, with U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Chuck Fleischmann) recently visited Oak Ridge and Los Alamos as part of a trip to several national laboratories. He toured Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Y-12 National Security Complex. Secretary Perry touted ORNL’s innovative work in fields such as supercomputing and 3D printing. His visit was covered by Oak Ridge Today and numerous other media outlets.
Oak Ridge kicked off its annual Secret City Festival on Saturday, June 2. The festival ran through June 10. Highlights include tours of Y-12 and the X-10 Graphite Reactor, exhibits on Oak Ridge’s history, World War II reenactments, concerts, and much more. More information is available at http://www.celebrateoakridge.org/.
The Manhattan Project NHP at Oak Ridge is continuing several popular events, including Ranger-led bike rides around Oak Ridge and programs on secrecy and espionage during the Manhattan Project. On June 15, a photography exhibit called “Natural Synergy” opened at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. The exhibit will highlight the Manhattan Project contributions of naturalized American citizens. The following day, June 16, the National Park Service and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service hosted a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens at the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE).
Another highlight this summer will be the total solar eclipse on August 21. Oak Ridge will be in the eclipse’s path of totality; stay tuned for information from the Park Service about eclipse viewings.
In other Oak Ridge news, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that depending on funding, construction could begin as soon as this year on the K-25 History Center. The Center will be part of a complex of three buildings at the site of the K-25 plant, which produced enriched uranium using the gaseous diffusion process during the Manhattan Project and Cold War. DOE completed the demolition of K-25 in 2013.
The History Center will tell the stories of the people who worked at K-25 during the Manhattan Project and Cold War. Other buildings at the site will include the Equipment Building, which will interpret the technology behind K-25, and a Viewing Tower, which will enable visitors to view the massive K-25 site. For more information, see this Oak Ridge Today article.
On June 18, 2017, the National Park Service announced the new visitor center will be co-located with the Children’s Museum, 461 West Outer Drive in Oak Ridge. The building is a former Manhattan Project-era elementary school and has 54,000 square feet. For the first 18 months, the NPS had space in the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE). However, DOE plans to demolish AMSE so the property can be developed for other purposes. AMSE is expected to relocate to a smaller location in Oak Ridge.
Annual bus tours of B Reactor and pre-war Manhattan Project sites, organized by DOE, are well underway at the Hanford unit of the Manhattan Project NHP. The B Reactor tour takes visitors through the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor. The pre-war sites tour includes the Bruggemann Warehouse (left), Hanford High School, the First Bank of White Bluffs, and other locations from the communities that were evicted by the government for the Manhattan Project. You can find more information and register online at http://manhattanprojectbreactor.hanford.gov/.
Before you go, be sure to check out AHF’s “Ranger in Your Pocket” online tours of Hanford, as well as AHF and the B Reactor Museum Association’s “Know Before You Go” program. These online tours use expert commentary and firsthand accounts from Manhattan Project workers to illustrate how the B Reactor worked and describe life at Hanford during the Manhattan Project.
After completing the Manhattan Project NHP’s foundation document earlier this year, the National Park Service will now begin the process of developing an interpretive plan, collections management plan, and introductory film. The Atomic Heritage Foundation is working on a variety of educational resources to help support the Manhattan Project NHP. Our Manhattan Project Veterans Database currently features more than 13,500 profiles of Manhattan Project veterans. The “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website now includes more than 450 interviews.
In addition, AHF and LAHS recently launched a new “Ranger in Your Pocket” program on the Hans Bethe House at Los Alamos. This year, AHF will also complete new programs on innovations at Los Alamos, the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago, and Oak Ridge. We look forward to sharing these educational resources with Manhattan Project NHP visitors and the public.