August 2012
Manhattan Project Park in the News
Ask Your Congressmen to Support the Bill!
Reflections on the Bomb
Manhattan Project Celebrates 70th Anniversary
AHF Releases "A Guide to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico"
Symposium at National Archives at Atlanta
Quick Links


The Manhattan Project received a lot of press in August! From the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act to the anniversaries of the establishment of the Manhattan Project and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the project garnered a lot of attention this past month. We are pleased so many people and journalists nationwide have taken an interest in this fascinating history.

Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima

Manhattan Project Park in the News 

The Oppenheimer House at Los Alamos

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park legislation currently under consideration has received nationwide attention in the past few weeks. Because Congress was in recess for much of August, Senator Jeff Bingaman and Congressman Doc Hastings have not had the opportunity to move the legislation forward. But the Park received a hugely significant endorsement by the Washington Post, which published an editorial advocating the establishment of the Park. 


The piece calls the Park "a fine idea," explaining, "Given [the three Manhattan Project sites'] importance in the histories of the United States, the Cold War and the 20th century, Congress should pass the park designation bill by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and companion legislation by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.)." The editorial concludes, 

"[The Manhattan Project] encompasses a seminal moment in world history, one that surely warrants the wider audience this legislative push would bring." 


It is rare for the Washington Post to write an editorial advocating the creation of a new national park, so the editorial is especially significant and timely. The leadership of the 112th Congress needs to makes sure that the legislation is enacted.

The Gun Site at Los Alamos

On August 8, CBS aired an excellent segment on the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park during its show, CBS This Morning. Lee Cowan, a CBS national correspondent, traveled to Los Alamos, NM to view the sites. Ellen McGehee, Los Alamos National Laboratory's historic buildings manager, gave Cowan a tour of the restored V-Site, where the "Gadget," the first plutonium-based atomic explosive, was assembled by Manhattan Project scientists; the Gun Site, where the "Little Boy" bomb was assembled; and the Quonset Hut, where assembly work on the "Fat Man" bomb was done before it was shipped to Tinian. 


Cowan also interviewed Helene Suydam, 92. Since 1951, she has lived in the house where J. Robert Oppenheimer and his family lived during the Manhattan Project when he directed the laboratory at Los Alamos. In 2004, Mrs. Suydam has agreed to leave the house to the Los Alamos Historical Society. Commenting on a photo taken of Oppenheimer in the house, she remarked that she "has not changed a thing."


Other news articles on the legislation include articles in Yahoo News, the Tri-City News Tribune, the New Scientist, and the Japan Times. AHF President Cindy Kelly was interviewed for the last two pieces.


Ask Your Congressmen to Support the Bill! 


The National Trust for Historic Preservation has created an easy way for advocates of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to contact their Congressmen and ask for their support for the legislation. Simply click here, fill in the required fields, edit the letter as you wish, and your missive will be sent to your Congressmen's offices. 


The national park legislation will be competing with an avalanche of other business before the 112th Congress adjourns. With precious few legislative days left in the session, please help make sure the Manhattan Project National Historical Park legislation gets the priority it deserves.

Reflections on the Bomb


August 6 and 9, 2012 represent the 67th anniversaries of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This fall AHF and the Los Alamos Historical Society will launch a website, "Voices of the Manhattan Project," featuring oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans. Here are a few excerpts of interviews conducted by AHF with Manhattan Project veterans, highlighting how they feel about the decision to drop the bomb.  

Robert Furman receiving the Legion of Merit from General Groves in December 1945. Courtesy of the Patricia Cox Owen Collection.

Robert Furman, Assistant to General Leslie Groves; interview conducted on February 20, 2008: "It's a miracle the bomb was developed. It's wonderful that we were able to use it to end the war. If it had not occurred--if the bomb had not been dropped and the war had continued, thousands of people would have died on both sides, particularly if we had invaded Japan. We might be talking about a million people in such a terrible invasion process."


Gordon Knobeloch, Los Alamos chemist; interview conducted on November 16, 2005: "It was the scientists who made the bomb, but it wasn't our decision to drop it. That was up to the military or the president, Harry Truman. And Truman truly had no option. I mean, what if he had decided not to use it and gone ahead with a bloody invasion of Japan, which might have failed, but, in any event, that would have killed a lot of people."

Oak Ridgers celebrating the surrender of Japan

Mary Michel, K-25 worker; interview conducted on June 18, 2005: "The night that the news broke that the bombs had been dropped, there was joyous occasions in the streets [in Oak Ridge], hugging and kissing and dancing and live music and singing that went on for hours and hours. But it bothered me to know that I, in my very small way, had participated in such a thing, and I sat in my dorm room and cried."


Ray Stein, Oak Ridge SED; interview conducted June 18, 2005: "I belong to a World War II roundtable and several of them said, "We were on our way to Japan when they dropped the bomb, and they turned around and sent us home." And it just saved so many lives, even though it was unfortunate having to use it. But it did save a lot of lives of Japanese people, and our men."


To read more from these interviews, please click here


Manhattan Project Celebrates 70th Anniversary


August 13, 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the official creation of the Manhattan Project, with the establishment of the Manhattan Engineer District.Two of the Manhattan Project sites, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington, held events to commemorate the anniversary on August 13, 2012. The third, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will host an event on September 19, the 70th anniversary of the selection of Oak Ridge as a Manhattan Project site.


Senator Jeff Bingaman

The Los Alamos Historical Society commemorated the anniversary on August 13 by honoring Senator Jeff Bingaman, the sponsor of the Senate legislation to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The Los Alamos City Council presented Senator Bingaman with a plaque to honor his preservation efforts. Senator Bingaman was cautiously optimistic: "We've got strong bi-partisan support for the bill and that endorsement [of the Washington Post] might help get it passed by the end of this year." To read more about the event from the Los Alamos Daily Post, please click here.

Rep. Doc Hastings


In Hanford, about 120 people heard Representative Doc Hastings, the sponsor of the House's Manhattan Project Park legislation, speak at the Richland Library on August 13. The event at Hanford honored the tens of thousands of workers who had a part in the Manhattan Project--many of them without knowing the project's goal. NBC affiliate KNDU covered the event and the significance of the Manhattan Project's 70th anniversary. Senator Maria Cantwell, another advocate of the Manhattan Project Park, could not attend the event but issued a press release discussing the anniversary and the importance of preserving the Manhattan Project sites for future generations. 


AHF Releases A Guide to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico


The second edition of our Guide to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico is out! Originally published in 2010, AHF completely sold out of the initial print run. Thanks to a generous grant from Clay and Dorothy Perkins, AHF published a new, revised edition of its popular guide. 

The second edition of the guidebook is eight pages longer than the first edition and features colorful photographs and a vibrant layout. This version includes several new items, including photographs, excerpts from our oral history collection, and updated content. For example, one new section features J. Robert Oppenheimer's cabin retreat in the Los Pinos Mountains, which he and his brother Frank playfully named "Perro Caliente" (hot dog). Learn about New Mexico's geography, why Oppenheimer chose to locate his team of scientists on the remote mesas of Los Alamos, and the espionage that gave the Soviet Union a jump start in the nuclear arms race. To view the Table Contents, please click here.


A Guide to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico can be purchased individually or as part of our set of Manhattan Project guidebooks featuring New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington. (We will be publishing the second edition of our New York City guidebook in the next month!) You can purchase our guidebooks through our online store, through Amazon, or at selected books stores. The Santa Fe New Mexican featured the guidebook in an article.


With the prospect of Congress designating a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, these guidebooks provide a perfect sneak preview of the top-secret Manhattan Project.


Symposium at National Archives at Atlanta


On September 15, the National Archives at Atlanta is hosting a symposium, "The Secret City in the Tennessee Hills: From Dogpatch to Nuclear Power," highlighting its vast holdings. The National Archives at Atlanta is home to many Manhattan Project and Atomic Energy Commission-related documents.


Speakers at the symposium include Denise Kiernan, author of the soon-to-be released book The Girls of Atomic City; Dr. James Mahaffey, author of Atomic Awakening: The History of Nuclear Power; Shane Bell, National Archives at Atlanta archivist; Ray Smith, Y-12 historian; and Jim Campbell of the East Tennessee Economic Council. We encourage our readers in Atlanta and its surroundings to attend this great event! 


Thanks very much for your interest in the Manhattan Project and preserving its history for future generations. Your contributions help us continue to work on preserving the Manhattan Project's historic sites and creating a national historical park. 


Thank you very much for your support!



Atomic Heritage Foundation