I have always fancied that the end of the world will be when some enormous boiler, heated to three thousand millions of atmospheric pressure, shall explode and blow up the globe. ... They [the Americans] are great boilermakers.
|Official seal of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
X-10 Nuclear Reactor
In my post for the letter N I referred in passing to Oak Ridge, Tennessee which played a big role in the developing of the first atomic bombs during World War 2. This project, known as The Manhattan Project because it was planned out in an office in Manhattan, expanded to a number of research and development centers throughout the United States. This effort, which was one of America's most intensive projects ever, resulted in developing and producing atomic bombs within a time frame of less than three years.
In order to accommodate the R & D facilities and its employees and their families, the city of Oak Ridge was rapidly planned and built. By the end of the war in 1945, the city had grown to become the fifth largest city in Tennessee. After the war the city continued to serve as an important scientific center for the study and manufacture of nuclear materials.
A key facility at the Oak Ridge Laboratories was referred to as the X-10 Pile, the first nuclear reactor designed for continuous production. The X-10 Graphite Reactor produced the plutonium necessary for the atomic bomb. This reactor is no longer in operation after being shut down in 1963 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
The three key nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington are now the three sites of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Visitors to the park can visit museums and see the original reactors and other components of the laboratories. For security reasons the X-10 reactor and other buildings at the Tennessee site can only be visited as part of a bus tour provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratories.
Visiting all three sites would be an epic history vacation for anyone with a strong interest in atomic bomb development, but if you are near any one of these areas a visit to the one to which you are closest is highly recommended. Oak Ridge is the most accessible to the greatest population area as it sits just a short drive from the most visited National Park in the United States--The Great Smokey Mountains. The Laboratories are also a two hour drive from Nashville.
A vacation to the Great Smokies with all of the tourist activities nearby will provide memorable adventure and entertainment for adults and as well as families with children. There is literally something to please everyone.
The history of the area ranges from the time when the indigenous peoples such as the Creeks and Cherokees inhabited the land, to the time of the early European settlers, to the Civil War Era and beyond. The X-10 Reactor is just one more piece of the history that brought the United States into the Atomic Age.
Have you visited any of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park sites? Have you ever visited any nuclear power plant or other similar facility? Do you see a positive future for nuclear energy?