Los Alamos, New Mexico

Day 475

          So, where would you go in the United States to find an isolated place, in an inhospitable area, in the middle of nowhere, where no one could find you? How about Los Alamos? Los Alamos, Spanish for “the cottonwoods”, is located on a mesa (an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs) of the Pajarito Plateau. The Pajarito Plateau, Elevation 7,320 feet, is a volcanic plateau, part of the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. Just describing it sounds like a place no one would want to go. 

     We went there, however, to view where the atomic bomb was developed. 

     This area was initially settled around 1200 AD by what the Spanish called Pueblo Indians. The remains of their dwellings are still here.  

     In the 1940’s the only inhabitants were some homesteaders and the Los Alamos Ranch School. The school, established in 1917, offered a program modeled after the Boy Scouts of America, combining a college preparatory curriculum with a rigorous outdoor life.

     The school was closed when the government used its power of eminent domain to take over the Ranch School and all the remaining homesteads on December 1, 1942, and built this secret facility to develop “project Y”, also known as the Manhattan Project.

     The idea to develop an atomic bomb actually began as early as 1939. Early headquarters for this secret project was located on the 18th floor of 270 Broadway in Manhattan, New York, and hence the name. 

     I learn something new every day: I thought that the same atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact they were two vastly different bombs. The Hiroshima bomb (Little Boy) was a uranium bomb, while the Nagasaki bomb (Fat Man) was a plutonium bomb.

     The firing method was completely different for each one, which I also learned about. 

     Some of the original buildings of the school are still standing, but have been modernized over the years. Most are owned by private individuals.  

     Don’t let  Kim Jong Un see this. 

     The Los Alamos National Laboratory, a remnant of the Manhattan Project, is still here with 10,353 employees, by my count. 

     Barbara accidentally leaned against a control panel and set off an Atomic Bomb.

One thought on “Los Alamos, New Mexico

  1. That is some really neat stuff they have in L.A. Albuquerque has the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History which dove tails nicely into what you learned at Los Alamos. If you are heading south after the balloon festival, head down to White Sands Missile Range and you’ll learn even more about the testing of the bomb at the Trinity Site. There is also a very little know museum in Alamogordo where W.S. is located called the New Mexico Museum of Space History. All of these places tie in nicely to the nuclear program. It also houses the International Space Hall of Fame. The museum sits on a cliff overlooking the White Sands base and the White Sands National Monument. And there is plenty of big parking for the dually and the trailer.

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