Atomic Energy Commission or Department of Energy Workers
Manhattan Project - Signature Facilities
The following is the list of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Manhattan Project "Signature Facilities," approved by the Departmental Corporate Board on Historic Preservation in December 1999. Taken together, the eight Signature Facilities provide the core for the DOE's ability to successfully interpret, whether in situ or through a museum or other interpretive setting, the Manhattan Project mission of developing atomic bombs during World War II.
This list does not preclude protection and preservation of other historic facilities in the nuclear weapons complex. Just as these facilities constitute the core for DOE-wide preservation, access, and interpretation, each site may have site-specific signature facilities that best interpret that site's Manhattan Project mission from a local, state, regional, national, or international perspective.
Metallurgical Laboratory, University of Chicago (Chemistry Building and CP-1 site)
In August 1942, Metallurgical Laboratory isolated the first weighable amount of plutonium. Chemistry Building is now a National Landmark with a plaque and interpretive display. On December 2, 1942, CP-1 (Fermi’s "pile" at Stagg Field) produced the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction. The site is commemorated with a plaque and sculpture. Argonne National Laboratory is a lineal descendant of the Metallurgical Laboratory.
X-10 Graphite Reactor, Oak Ridge
Built in 1943, the X-10 Graphite Reactor was designed as a pilot for the Hanford production reactors. It produced the first significant amounts of plutonium. A National Historic Landmark, the control room and reactor face are accessible to the public.
K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Process Building, Oak Ridge
Completed in 1945, the U-shaped building measures half a mile by 1,000 feet. Gaseous diffusion was one of three isotope separations processes that provided U 235 for the Hiroshima weapon (Little Boy). Gaseous diffusion was the only uranium enrichment process used during the Cold War. The K-25 prototype was later used for the Oak Ridge plants and those at Paducah and Portsmouth.
Y-12 Beta-3 Racetracks, Oak Ridge
Y-12 Beta-3 Racetracks produced U-235 for the Hiroshima weapon. It is the only surviving production-level electromagnetic isotope separations facility in U.S. (Comparable facility in Sverdlovsk, Russia).
B Reactor, Hanford
Completed in 1944, B Reactor was the world's first large-scale plutonium production reactor. It produced plutonium for the Trinity device, Nagasaki weapon (Fat Man), and Cold War weapons. The interior of the reactor building is currently accessible to the public by appointment only. It is a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
Chemical Separations Building (T Plant), Hanford
Completed in 1944-45, T Plant separated plutonium out of production reactor fuel rods. It is a massive canyon-like structure that is 800 feet long, 65 feet wide, and 80 feet high. Contamination precludes access to the interior, though the interior can be viewed through a closed-circuit television system.
V-Site Assembly Building, Los Alamos
The V-Site Assembly Building is among the last remaining Manhattan Project buildings at Los Alamos. The Trinity device and later weapons were assembled here. Other buildings at the site were destroyed by the Cerro Grande fire in May 2000.
Trinity Site, Alamogordo
On July 16, 1945, test began the atomic age. The site, now owned by DOD (part of White Sands Missile Range), contains a commemorative sign and other artifacts, as well as the McDonald Ranch House and remnants of the base camp. It is currently open to the public twice a year. The Trinity site is a National Historic Landmark.
Source: Department of Energy
In September 1945, many participants returned to the Trinity test site for news crews. Here, Oppenheimer and Groves examine the remains of one the bases of the steel test tower.
A portion of the Alamogordo Bombing Range was chosen as the site for the Trinity Test. This section of the test site was located at McDonald Ranch, which served as assembly headquarters for the atomic device. All of these temporary buildings were removed after the test.
The Gadget at the base of the 100-foot test tower. Assembly began on July 11, 1945, and took five days.
Norris Bradbury, the group leader for bomb assembly, stands next to the partially assembled Gadget atop the test tower. Later, he became the director of Los Alamos after the departure of Oppenheimer. Bradbury would serve as the director for several decades.
Jumbo weighed 214 tons, was 25 feet long, 12 feet wide, and had walls 14 inches thick. As the reactors at Hanford began to produce greater quantities of plutonium and calculations lessened the chance of a fizzle, Jumbo was abandoned and raised up on a tower 800 feet from Ground Zero to be exposed to the effects from the Trinity Test.
The early fireball at .053 seconds.
This photo was taken 28 hours after the explosion at ground zero. The circle at bottom right is where the 100-ton test was conducted on May 7, 1945.