Atomic America: Photos reveal the ghosts of the US' Cold War nuclear arsenal

Some sites will soon be preserved as part of a new historical park

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The Independent US

From the end of World War Two, the US government developed and stockpiled its atomic arsenal in the backroads of the US in case the Cold War suddenly became heated.

Between 1942 and 1945, scientists worked as part of the Manhattan Project - a government-funded research initiative – to produce the first atomic bomb. What followed was an arms race that lasted for decades.

Now, sites where the weapons and the buildings where they were created are gathering dust, and have instead become places of pilgrimage for photographers seeking out eerie landscapes, and curious bus-loads of tourists.

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Western wheatgrass has grown in and around the former launch site of a Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile just outside Wall South Dakota

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A decommissioned Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile sits in an underground silo at the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona

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The 25-ton blast door of a once-secret nuclear bunker built for members of Congress is seen beneath The Greenbrier, a four-star resort near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

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An unarmed Minutemen intercontinental ballistic missile is seen in its launch tube at the Delta-09 launch facility just outside Wall, South Dakota

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The Mosler bank vault, constructed to determine the effects of nuclear weapons on civil structures, survived a 37-kiloton blast in 1957 at the Nevada National Security Site, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada

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The control room of the X-10 graphite reactor, the world's second reactor after Enrico Fermi's so-called Chicago Pile, is seen at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

In Arizona and South Dakota, decommissioned nuclear missiles remain poised for action, while the facilities where uranium and plutonium were developed in Tennessee and Washington are left unused.

After over a decade of discussions with the aim of preserving sites at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford - where scientists raced to develop the world’s first atomic bomb - the National Park Service and the Department of Energy plan to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

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Visitors look at the core of Hanford's historic B Reactor, the world's first, full-scale nuclear reactor, on the Hanford Site in Washington

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The so-called 'Apple-2 House' is one of two homes that remain from Doomtown's fake American community that included cars, furniture, and mannequins, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada

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A Hanford worker is seen on a TV monitor in a level B protective suit as he cleans the most hazardous room at the Hanford Site, the Plutonium Finishing Plant's Americium Recovery Facility, also known as the 'McCluskey Room,' in Hanford, Washington

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A replica of 'Fat Man,' the atomic bomb that the US dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in WWII , sits on a flatbed trailer at the at the Trinity Test Site, on White Sands Missile Range just outside San Antonio, New Mexico

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The Sedan Crater, formed by a 104-kiloton thermonuclear detonation in 1962, is a major draw for visitors hoping to land a spot on one of 12 annual tours of the Nevada National Security Site, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada

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A warning sign is seen on a fence surrounding the Trinity Test Site, where on July 16, 1945 scientists working with the Manhattan Project detonated the world's first atomic bomb, on White Sands Missile Range just outside San Antonio, New Mexico

Officials hope the initiative will offer better access to the sites, to promote better management and historic preservation, and to meet public demand, as bus tours can sell out in days.

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A concrete marker at a site known as 'Plot M,' which is located in a public park in suburban Chicago, warns visitors that radioactive waste from the Chicago Pile (the world's first nuclear reactor), as well as other nuclear experiments, is buried beneath the soil in Red Gate Woods, Illinois

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The radioactive core of the F Reactor on the Hanford Site, one of nine nuclear reactors built to make plutonium for nuclear weapons, now sits cocooned in concrete near the banks of the Columbia River in Hanford, Washington

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An 18-ton blast door that was once-hidden behind a moving panel is seen at the entrance to a once-secret Cold War nuclear bunker built for members of Congress beneath the Greenbrier, a four-star resort near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

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The loading face of the X-10 graphite reactor, the world's second reactor after Enrico Fermi's so-called Chicago Pile, is seen through the window of the control room at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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The assistant launch control officer's station is seen at the Delta 01-Launch Control Facility, the former control center of a Minuteman missile, just outside Wall, South Dakota

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The dome of an abandoned Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile site is seen in the desert outside of Vail, Arizona

However, other remnants of the Manhattan Project are neglected, including a satellite calibration target in Arizona which was once used to help American satellites focus their lenses before spying on the Soviet Union. Nowadays, it sits covered in weeds near a motel parking lot.

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Weeds poke through the concrete surrounding the cell cover of a missile silo that once contained a Sprint thermonuclear missile near Hampden, North Dakota

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The remains of Hanford High School, which will become part of the soon-to-be-established Manhattan Project National Historical Park, are seen on the Hanford Site in Hanford, Washington

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