September 2011
Secretary Salazar Visits B Reactor
Legislative Update: Manhattan Project National Historical Park
Fate of K-25
Oak Ridge Champions
Los Alamos Lecture Series Celebrates the New Mexico Centennial
Remembering Jerry Suydam and the Oppneheimer House
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The coming of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park is an important opportunity for all of us but especially for the Manhattan Project communities.  As Secretary Salazar commented after his tour of the B Reactor (see lead story), "National parks 'bring heads to beds,' boosting the tourism economies of their local communities." 


Now is the time for Los Alamos, NM, Oak Ridge, TN, and Richland, WA to engage in revitalizing their Manhattan Project heritage. Just this summer, visitors from some 47 states and 28 different nations toured the B reactor. To paraphrase, invest in your heritage and they will come.


Moreover, as Salazar said, the Manhattan Project is "a story of human ingenuity."  The innovations that gave birth to the world's first atomic bombs transformed American science and technology, giving birth to Big Science and the national laboratory system.  Connecting the dots between the past and the present, the coming park is a huge opportunity to educate and inspire young and old alike. The legacy of innovations in medicine, computing, energy, nuclear science and other fields have transformed our lives and hold promise for the future.  


Please consider making a donation to help us make the Park a reality!

Secretary Salazar Visits B Reactor 


Secretary Salazar, seated, with Russ Fabre, MSA, explaining B Reactor controls, Congressman Doc Hastings, Governor Chris Gregoire, and Senator Maria Cantwell.
Secretary Salazar, seated, with Russ Fabre, MSA, explaining B Reactor controls, Congressman Doc Hastings, Governor Chris Gregoire, and Senator Maria Cantwell.
"We have not yet done a good enough job of telling the story of World War II and the nuclear era born out of the war," Secretary of Interior Salazar commented after touring the B Reactor on September 18, 2011. The Atomic Heritage Foundation applauds Secretary Salazar's recognition of the significance of the Manhattan Project and the recommendations he sent to Congress in July to designate a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. His vision is a welcome contrast to past decades when demolition of the Manhattan Project had priority over preservation.


Also joining the tour of the B Reactor were Governor Christine Gregoire, Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressman Doc Hastings. Senator Maria Cantwell commented, "By making a national historic park, we're going to be able to tell the whole story-the story of the atomic workers and the risks that they took and the story of unbelievable science and engineering." (KNDO television)


Indeed, the new park is an opportunity to unveil the secrecy that has cloaked the operations of the Manhattan Project and Cold War and connect the dots between the Manhattan Project and America's innovations in science and technology today. As National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said, "The National Park Service will be proud to interpret these Manhattan Project sites and unlock their stories in the years ahead."


Legislative Update: 

Manhattan Project National Historical Park


Jeff Bingaman
On July 13, 2011, Secretary Salazar transmitted the National Park Service's recommendations to Congress for designating a three-unit park saying, "The secret development of the atomic bomb in multiple locations across the United States is an important story and one of the most transformative events in our nation's history." 


Doc Hastings
Two champions of the Manhattan Project
Park are chairing the relevant Senate and House committees with jurisdiction over the National Parks. Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM), Chairman of the Senate Ener
gy and Natural Resources Committee, and Congressman Doc 
Hastings (WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, are leading efforts to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Senate and House committee staff members have met to coordinate their work and are currently drafting language. Once the bills are introduced, hearings will be held. For more information on these developments, please visit our website.


Fate of K-25 
K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge, TN
K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge, TN
The Department of Energy at Oak Ridge is rumored to be near a decision on whether to preserve a portion of the K-25 plant. When it was built in 1943, the K-25 plant for uranium enrichment was the largest roofed building in the world, costing the equivalent of $6.4 billion in today's money. The plant pioneered the gaseous diffusion process used to separate the isotopes of uranium.


In 2000, the Department designated the K-25 plant as one of the Signature Facilities of the Manhattan Project along with the X-10 Graphite Reactor and Y-12 Beta 3 Calutrons. Together these three facilities created the enriched uranium used in the "Little Boy" bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Now, the plant lies partially demolished as officials debate how much of it, if any, should be preserved for future generations.


In December 2010, Degenkolb Engineers studied the structural feasibility and costs of preserving a portion of the plant. The report analyses four possible schemes, one of which provides for retaining one cell or one-twelfth of the North Tower. The cost of this option to preserve a representative sample of the mile-long plant is approximately $8.6 million, not including "soft costs" such as for architectural costs and exhibits.


The value of having an authentic portion of the plant for future generations is priceless. As Richard Rhodes, author of the Pulitzer-winning tome The Making of the Atomic Bomb, has written, "When we lose parts of our physical past, we lose parts of our common social past." With the overall costs of demolition of K-25 plant well over $1 billion, allocating a small fraction for preservation is minimal return to the tax payers and token recognition of the importance of the K-25 plant to the Manhattan Project and Cold War history. 

Oak Ridge Champions


Bill Wilcox

The Atomic Heritage Foundation would like to recognize key champions in helping preserve Oak Ridge's rich history: Oak Ridge City Historian Bill Wilcox and Y-12 Historian D. Ray Smith. Bill Wilcox was recently honored and had a conference room named after him for his passion and dedication to preserving Oak Ridge's history. 


Ray Smith

D. Ray Smith continues to educate the public on preservation efforts and Oak Ridge local history through his regular weekly column "Historically Speaking," featured on


We applaud their efforts and thank them for their many contributions.  

Los Alamos Lecture Series Celebrates the New Mexico Centennial 


Congratulations to the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS) for its successful lecture series being now an official event of the New Mexico Centennial. Each month, LAHS holds lectures in the Pajarito Room of the Fuller Lodge on aspects of the history of Los Alamos and New Mexico. Featured topics include homesteads on the Pajarito Plateau, the story of Peggy Pond Church, and Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project, among others. 



Remembering Jerry Suydam
and the Oppenheimer House


Jerry Suydam
Jerry Suydam

AHF wants to express its sincerest condolences to Helene Suydam for the passing of Bergen Randolph "Jerry" Suydam. Jerry graduated in 1937 with Pennsylvania State College with a BS in physics and MIT with a Doctor of Science. After a brief career working in Virginia, he transferred to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in 1947. He continued working at LANL until his retirement in 1986. He passed away on September 13, 2011.


The Suydams have lived in the J. Robert Oppenheimer house, one of the modest cottages designed by John Gaw Meem for the Los Alamos Boys Ranch School.  Seven cottages on what is now officially Bathtub Row were used to house the top-echelon military and scientific leaders and their families during the Manhattan Project. The Suydams generously donated the title of the historic Oppenheimer house property in a living trust agreement to the Los Alamos Historical Society. Additionally, the Suydams were avid supporters of many Los Alamos community projects, museums and performing arts productions. 

This as an exciting time for those who care about preserving the Manhattan Project.  But to realize the full potential of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, we need as strong a partnership as there was for the original Manhattan Project. Your contributions help us continue to make the case for preserving the Manhattan Project's historic sites and creating a national historical park. Thank you very much for your support!


Atomic Heritage Foundation