Attention history buffs: last month the National Park Service established the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to help tell the story of what went into the creation of the atomic bomb. The park consists of three sites—Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico—each of which was key during the years preceding the end of World War II.
Hanford houses the B Reactor. It’s the world’s first full-sized reactor and was used to produce plutonium for the Trinity test as well as the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Here, visitors can tour the reactor and the neighboring towns that were evacuated during development.
At Oak Ridge (pictured above), you’ll have the opportunity to explore the site’s X-10 Graphite Reactor as well as the buildings where the electromagnetic separation process took place. During the war, the site served as the administrative and military headquarters.
Los Alamos (pictured below) housed the scientists. They spent their time here working on designing the bombs, while other personnel built them. Bunkered gun facilities as well as laboratories where the Trinity device was assembled and plutonium chemistry research took place can be found on site, but neither are open to the public. Here’s to hoping that status changes in the future.
All in all, the new park will shed light on the secret world that created the atomic bomb, of which the subject is tricky and the material can be grim. According to the National Park Service, homeowners were evicted and Native American tribes were forced leave their land in Hanford. Workers were often kept out of the loop, not knowing what their work would eventually lead to. Not to mention the all the lives lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sally Jewell, energy secretary, tells the Guardian that the park was created to give voices to all those involved. Hopefully it will provide a better sense of how the Manhattan Project effected the world by telling stories not necessarily found in a U.S. history book.