May 2011
Preserving Hanford's Cask Cars
Tennessee Guide Book Coming Soon
Revised B Reactor Booklet Now at Hanford
AHF Welcomes Summer Interns
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All reports indicate that the Secretary of Interior, with the concurrence of the Secretary of Energy, will soon transmit recommendations to Congress to designate a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Once Congress officially receives the report, the House and Senate committees will begin to draft legislation and hold hearings.  We are hopeful that legislation establishing the park with units at Los Alamos, NM, Oak Ridge, TN and Hanford, WA will be favorably considered by the 112th Congress.


In the meantime, we are working on the Cold War properties that should be preserved. On Monday, May 23, 2011, the Department of Interior held its first meeting of the Cold War Advisory Committee in Washington, DC. Congress passed legislation in 2009 authorizing the Secretary of Interior to identify sites and resources in the United States that are significant to the Cold War. The Committee is to advise the National Park Service as it develops a National Historic Landmark Theme Study for the Cold War.


As a member of the Committee, AHF's Cindy Kelly shared a preliminary list of Cold War properties from the former nuclear weapons sites that might be considered as National Historical Landmarks. There are now only 2,470 National Historical Landmarks in the nation, with about 30 additional ones added each year.


nike site
The Nike Missile Site at Hanford, WA

Even though there is no limit on the number of Cold War properties that could become National Historical Landmarks, the criteria are stringent. The property must be acknowledged to be among the nation's most significant properties associated with the Cold War and have a high degree of integrity when compared with other properties. 


This summer the National Park Service will make its preliminary study available to the public for comment. For an advanced look at some of the Cold War candidates, here is the preliminary list of possible properties cobbled together from comments that AHF gathered prior to the meeting. We welcome any comments as we grapple with the question of what should be preserved to commemorate the Cold War. 

 Hanford's Locomotives and Cask Cars

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce that two locomotives and two cask cars from the trains that carried nuclear fuel across the Hanford site in eastern Washington during the Manhattan Project and much of the Cold War will soon make their final voyage. Their destination: the Hanford B Reactor, where they will eventually be restored and displayed for public viewing.


The locomotives pulled cars that carried irradiated fuel from the site's three reactors to its chemical separation plants, where the fuel was dissolved and the plutonium removed. At the peak of World War II in 1945, Hanford was producing 21 kilograms of plutonium per month.

cask car
A cask car at Hanford in the 1950s

The two locomotives were built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) and purchased by Hanford in 1948. One of the cars, which dates to 1944, contains an unusual horizontal three-well container. The other, purchased in 1964, has a vertical container with a more standard double well.


Having the cars and locomotives on display "offers the people touring the site a visual understanding and a better way to describe the operations that were conducted," says Maynard Plahuta, president of the B Reactor Museum Association, which worked with the Department of Energy to preserve the Cold War artifacts.


The railcars will be filled with grout and sealed to prevent possible radioactive contamination, as well as fenced off initially to protect visitors from injuring themselves. Plahuta adds that the cask cars may be repainted to show off their original Atomic Energy Commission insignia. Since the locomotive engines are still operable, he says, they may even one day run on the old track at the B Reactor, the first large-scale nuclear reactor ever built. 

Guide to the Manhattan Project in Tennessee


guide book cover

The Atomic Heritage Foundation recently received funding from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Operations to develop a Guide to the Manhattan Project Sites in Tennessee. This book will be a part of a series begun with our well-received Guide to the Manhattan Project Sites in New Mexico. Full-color pictures of Tennessee's Manhattan Project sites and properties will accompanied by commentary by Manhattan Project veterans, historians and other experts.


Readers will learn about first-of-a-kind engineering marvels such as the Beta-3 Calutrons at Y-12 and the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant both of which the Atomic Heritage Foundation is working to preserve for future generations. The book will also focus on Oak Ridge's cultural and social history, revealing some of the long-kept secrets of the "secret city." We hope to publish the book this fall and make it available for sale on our website as well as through vendors in the Oak Ridge area.


B Reactor: First in the World 

blue book cover


First published in 2007, the "B Reactor: First in the World" is back. After extensive revisions with the aid of the B Reactor Museum Association and the Department of Energy in Richland, the Atomic Heritage Foundation updated the 44-page book on the B Reactor. Known as the "blue book," the Department of Energy-Richland uses it as a companion to the tours at at the B Reactor.  The book provides greater detail on each of the reactor's areas as well as explains its construction and operations during and after the Manhattan Project. Books are distributed to those who participate in the tours the B Reactor and are also available on our website.


In addition, the Atomic Heritage Foundation revised the video vignettes on display in the B Reactor museum. The changes are to ensure they are technically accurate and clarify certain aspects of the reactor operations. You can also see most of the vignettes on our YouTube page now and more will be uploaded shortly.


AHF Welcomes Summer Interns


The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to welcome two new interns for the summer. David Tidmarsh and Carolyn Lipka, both currently attending Yale University, will be instrumental as we tackle a wide variety of projects this summer. 


David Tidmarsh is a rising senior at Yale majoring in history with an interest in weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear history and diplomacy. He hopes to write his senior essay on the Manhattan Project or the Atomic Energy Commission. He is thrilled to be in DC, his original hometown where he was born and lived briefly, for the summer. 


Carolyn Lipka is a rising sophomore at Yale.  A prospective Global Affairs major, she is a member of the traveling Model United Nations Team at Yale, an active member of the Yale International Relations Association and a staff reporter for the Yale Daily News.  Her interests lie primarily in 19th Century Nuclear History and International Security and she has made a series of documentaries exploring the role that nuclear weapons played in various Cold War events.


The projects that we are working on all contribute to our mission to preserve and interpret the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age. Through working directly at historic sites and pressing for the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, we hope to ensure that these sites are not forgotten in generations to come. Your contributions help us continue to broaden the scope of our work and ensure that valuable opportunities for historic preservation are not missed. Thank you very much for your support!


Atomic Heritage Foundation