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.
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.
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.
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.
Fuller Lodge was built in 1928 as the school dining hall.
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.
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.
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.
And why this area was selected.
The Secret City was born.
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.
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.
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.
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.