11 Dec 2015

The City Behind the Fence The US Government’s Top Secret Town (72 Pics)

In 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government created a top ‘Secret Town’ aka ”The Atomic City’ now called Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The government bought up about 68,000 acres of land and about 1,000 Tennessee families were given two weeks or less to vacate. All the while, other secret towns were created elsewhere in the US as part of the race to create an atomic weapon. These photos are a flashback into World War II and a treasure trove of Oak Ridge period history. Through these pictures we can peer into the past, previously shrouded in secrecy, into the atomic city where the Little Boy bomb was created before the Enola Gay dropped it on Hiroshima. It’s a story that involves Soviet atomic spies, espionage, compartmentalization to guard secrets, and government billboards encouraging secrecy among Oak Ridge workers.

Atoms For Peace Traveling Exhibit in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1957. But once upon a time, for years, both the atomic research and the facility in Oak Ridge were shrouded in secrecy. The government created this ‘Secret Town’ aka ‘The Atomic City’ as part of the Manhattan Project. In fact, Oak Ridge was the Manhattan District Headquarters. Oak Ridge National Lab, which is now home to ultra-fast and powerful supercomputer Titan, has digitized photo archives, making this photo essay possible.
Uncle Sam promoting secrecy on Oak Ridge billboard in December 1943. Wikipedia states, “The Manhattan Project operated under a blanket of tight security, but Soviet atomic spies still penetrated the program. It was also charged with gathering intelligence on the German nuclear energy project. Through Operation Alsos, Manhattan Project personnel served in Europe, sometimes behind enemy lines, where they gathered nuclear materials and documents, and rounded up German scientists.”
Oak Ridge Tennessee 1966: “Your Stake in the Atom a special traveling exhibit of U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, is housed in its own geodesic, exoskeleton structure some 20 feet high and 50 feet in diameter.” By this time, the atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan, WWII was long over and replaced by the Cold War. The Manhattan Project had turned into a new page in history, the nuclear arms race.




































































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