NEW MEXICO: Los Alamos, Manhattan Project, Bradbury Science Museum

May 19th ~ Los Alamos, NM

Today was a difficult day for me and I feel deeply affected by all we saw. I was aware of the Manhattan Project, and have visited the bomb site in Hiroshima. Still, seeing up close and personal, the site where much of the research was done to develop our nuclear weapons was emotionally brutal.

Gray skies, bold setting

Our day started out gray, chilly and overcast. Having spent the night at nearby White Rock (Parking area for Bandelier), we were only a short drive away.

Bandelier National Monument is very close to Los Alamos

Manhattan Project National Historic Park

The visitors center opened at 9:00 and we wanted to get there early. The greeters invited us to first watch a video that spelled out some of the history of how and why this area was selected for the Manhattan Project.

Ashley Pond and Memorial Park behind visitors center

Back in 1917, Ashley Pond, Jr purchased a Los Alamos ranch for the purpose of building an elite boys school. Los Alamos Ranch School was a prep school which combined academics and a physical curriculum.

Class picture from the Ranch School

Fuller Lodge was built in 1928 as the school dining hall.

Fuller Lodge

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Next door to the Fuller Lodge was the guest house which now houses the History Museum. Much of the material included in this post was gathered from excellent displays inside.

The Big House (now gone) was the original main building for the school and where the boys slept.

Big House

About the Big House

In the meantime World War II is raging in Europe.

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote to President Roosevelt about his concerns that Germany was close to developing nuclear energy that could be weaponized.

Portion of letter Einstein wrote to Roosevelt

Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill took the information from Einstein seriously and created a top secret division to develop a plan for the USA and England to cooperate in developing our own weapons. Initially headquartered in New York, the Manhattan Project was born.

A secure, remote location where the research could be kept TOP SECRET was needed. Eventually Los Alamos was selected. The local land had to be purchased under cloak by the War Department and people had to be relocated.

In the meantime, in 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the USA entered the war.

Here is a copy of the letter where the Ranch School was taken by executive power.

Taking over the school for the Manhattan Project

And why this area was selected.

Why this was the ideal location

The Secret City was born.

The Secret City

Top scientist from around the world were brought in to conduct research and tests. They, of course, could tell no one where they were relocating or the nature of their work. This was the main research center, but not the only location.

Other locations where research was taking place

Most everyone knows the results, that the USA was successful in developing a nuclear bomb. In July 1945, we dropped bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Six days later Japan surrendered unconditionally and World War II officially ended on September 2.

So, what is this enormous land and facility used for today?

Well, research continues, still behind closed doors where a security clearance is needed to get through the gates. The Bradbury Science Museum touches a little on current projects, including our need to ensure the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear armaments.

This is a hands on museum, with lots to experience.

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Handout from Bradbury Science Museum

Layout of Museum

At the end of the day, I was both physically and emotionally drained.

Leaving Los Alamos, driving toward our next destination of Taos, the sky was still gray and dreary.

Mesa on the drive toward Taos

Life goes on…

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we have our freedom. I remain a firm believer that peace is always our top goal.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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26 Responses to NEW MEXICO: Los Alamos, Manhattan Project, Bradbury Science Museum

  1. Mike Alesko says:

    Wow Joanne, I learned so much about the Manhattan Project in today’s blog. I can imagine how being there was emotionally draining as you no doubt contemplated the destruction unleashed by what was developed there and the ever-present danger of nuclear annihilation today — 3/4 of a century later — by various regimes and madmen.

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    • Mike, our tour of Los Alamos was very educational, but yes, being acutely aware of the present world climate and tensions is both unnerving and depressing. In some ways our science and technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Sadly, we as a people seem to be doing the dance of one step forward and two steps back.

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  2. judilyn says:

    The museum was closed the day we were there, but a return visit zipped to the top of our list for (hopefully) our upcoming Santa Fe excursion. Thanks for the enticing and informative photos and narrative.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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  3. Taos.Mmmmmm. Home of many of my daughter’s family. Doc Martin is a legend.you should eat there, but there is a lot of good food in the town.

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  4. Imelda says:

    Interesting. Several years back, we were watching a sci-fi show, Eureka. It was about scientists and other gifted folks living and working in a secluded town that no one knew about. This real place must have been the inspiration for the show.

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  5. nelson2021 says:

    This post was great. Didn’t know that there was a museum that you could visit there. I remember how emotionally draining visiting the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC was – I imagine this would be somewhat the same. I appreciate your posts so much! I learn of many great new places to visit because of you.

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  6. Fascinating! I agree that peace is the goal, but unfortunately, sometimes it takes something terrible to buy that peace 😦

    janet

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  7. Like you, I was drained from this experience but I learned so much going to the History Museum and Bradbury Science Museum. I’m not always the best museum goer but these two are so fascinating and well organized.

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  8. Very interesting. I was born in the other Secret City, Oak Ridge, TN, where my parents (unknowingly) worked to separate U-238 that fueled the Hiroshima bomb. I visited there recently for the first time since I left at six months of age. It’s a place of mythic proportion to me and has always filled me with such mixed emotions. Looking at the past through today’s lenses (and getting through the hype, too) is a tough challenge.

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  9. venturewild says:

    Really enjoyed reading this, and your perspective on your experience! We were pretty bummed we missed this area when we rolled through NM, thanks for sharing ❤️

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  10. LTodd says:

    We’ve visited Hanford and Oak Ridge. Los Alamos is next in our list.

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