April Newsletter
House Committee Approves Manhattan Project Park Act
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Manhattan Project Park Act
New Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Remembering Ted Rockwell
New on AHF's "Atomic Wiki"
Oak Ridge in the News
Quick Links


The Atomic Heritage Foundation is very encouraged by the speed at which Congress is moving this year to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Creating the new park will ensure that important facilities and original artifacts remain and the stories of the people who worked on the Manhattan Project are not forgotten. 

Cherry blossoms by the Capitol on the day of the House Committee hearing
House Committee Approves Manhattan Project Park Act


The House and the Senate both made substantial progress towards creating a Manhattan Project National Historical Park in April. On April 24 the House Committee on Natural Resources approved H.R. 1208, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, by unanimous consent. The bill will now be sent to the floor for a vote, as yet unscheduled.


The House Committee held a hearing on the legislation on April 12. The witnesses at the hearing were Victor Knox of the National Park Service, Fran Berting, City Councilor of Los Alamos, Mayor Tom Beehan of Oak Ridge, and Mayor Steve Young of Kennewick. 

The witnesses at the hearing: Victor Knox of NPS, Mayor Steve Young of Kennewick, Mayor Tom Beehan of Oak Ridge, and Fran Berting, City Councilor of Los Alamos

Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA), the sponsor of the legislation and the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, stated, "Today the Manhattan Project National Historic Park is one step closer to becoming a reality. This has been a long process and I'm grateful to the community leaders and advocates who have worked tirelessly on its behalf. I'm committed to bringing the bill to the House floor this Congress and working with the Senate to get it signed into law. These facilities have an important, interesting, and historic story to tell and this bill would ensure that their doors remain open to visitors for years to come."


Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Manhattan Project Park Act 

On April 23, 2013, Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) presided over hearings of the National Parks subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The hearings considered 14 bills, including S. 507, to designate the Manhattan Project National Historical Park; S. 285, to designate the Valles Caldera National Preserve as a unit of the National Park System; and two other bills that create national parks (in Connecticut and Rhode Island). The hearing was only for legislation for which the subcommittee held hearings in the 112th Congress. 

Senators Mark Udall, the chairman of the national parks subcommittee, and Rob Portman, the ranking member.
Senators Mark Udall, the chairman of the national parks subcommittee, and Rob Portman, the ranking member.


Peggy O'Dell, Deputy Director for Operations of the National Park Service, and Ingrid Kolb, Director of the Office of Management for the Department of Energy, testified for the Administration. Ingrid Kolb spoke about the Manhattan Project, its history, and the importance of bringing one of the most significant events of the twentieth century to a wider public audience. Peggy O'Dell reiterated the Department of Interior's support for the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park. She explained that the annual cost of the new park would be $2.45 million to $4 million.


Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) expressed concern that the National Park Service had an eleven billion dollar maintenance backlog, and asked whether creating four new national parks was prudent. Ms. O'Dell responded that the communities involved in the four proposed new national parks were very supportive of the legislation, and that the National Park Service expects that the new parks will be an economic benefit to each region. Senator Udall also recognized the value of the parks to the local communities. For his remarks, Senator Barrasso received a "thumbs down" from the Tri-City Herald, which commented, "Barrasso is lucky that kind of naysaying didn't derail creation of Yellowstone National Park." 


New Additions to 
"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
AHF added a number of fascinating oral histories to "Voices of the Manhattan Project" in April. After adding Darragh Nagle's interview to the website in early April, AHF President Cindy Kelly called him to let him know his interview was now online. He was very pleased and talked about many of the people he worked with at Columbia and Los Alamos. Sadly, a few weeks later, on April 22, Nagle passed away. He will be missed.
AHF is working to capture as many oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans as possible, before it is too late. We will be interviewing veterans in Ann Arbor and Raleigh in May, and plan to hold interviews in Denver, San Diego, Phoenix, Boston, and more in the next few months. If you are, or know, a Manhattan Project veteran who would like to be interviewed, please contact us and let us know. It is crucial that we record the memories of the veterans for posterity.
Darragh Nagle graduated from Columbia University and worked with Enrico Fermi and Herbert Anderson at the Chicago Pile during the early years of the Manhattan Project. Nagle then transferred to Los Alamos, where he joined the Omega Team and conducted critically experiments. Nagle was also responsible for collecting soil samples after the atomic bomb test at the Trinity Site.

James A. Schoke was selected to be part of the Special Engineer Detachment that worked at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago on the Manhattan Project. He worked for the instrument group, inventing instruments to detect uranium, alpha rays, and more. He went on to a successful career in nucleonics and instruments. 


Pat Krikorian arrived at Los Alamos in August of 1943, where she worked as a secretary for the Women's Army Corps. Krikorian describes some of the security measures at Los Alamos, including a run-in with a commanding officer who became suspicious about the content of letters she received from her brother who was serving overseas.

Lawrence S. O'Rourke was among the first group of SEDs who worked at Columbia, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium. In 1945, O'Rourke was transferred to Oak Ridge and continued to work on the barrier material for the K-25 plant. O'Rourke also spent time at the Houdaille-Hershey Plant in Decatur, IL where he helped train people on how to test the barrier material.
Russell Stanton, a civil engineer, arrived at Hanford in October 1943 after working at various DuPont plants across the country. At Hanford, Stanton was tasked with constructing the B Reactor and the dozens of buildings that surrounded it. Later, Stanton helped construct a fish hatchery for the study of the effects of radiation on wildlife. 

Remembering Ted Rockwell

Atomic Heritage Foundation advisor and Manhattan Project veteran Ted Rockwell died in his sleep on March 31, 2013. The diagnosis, received a day later by his family, was mesothelioma.  In 1943, Ted was a graduate student in chemical engineering at Princeton when he was interviewed for a "very important war project."  As he recalls in an oral history taken by AHF in 2002, Ted asked, "Oh, what's it all about?" The recruiter replied, "We can't tell you what it's all about."


In typical fashion, Ted was not satisfied.  At the suggestion of some friends, he started searching through chemistry journals that night and came across the story of the discovery of atomic fission. Ted came tearing back to the recruiter and said, "Hey, I know what you're doing. It's atomic energy.  Isn't that right?"  The recruiter curtly responded, "It is the policy of the US Government neither to confirm nor deny..." Ted said, "OK.  That's good enough for me.  Sign me up."  That night the FBI called him and said, "Keep your damn trap shut, kid."

Ted and his daughter Juanita at Doctor Atomic

With that warning, Ted was on his way to Oak Ridge, TN to work on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret project to create an atomic bomb. At Oak Ridge, Ted worked at the plants at the Y-12 "Calutrons," machines.  It was at Oak Ridge that he met the love of his life, Mary Compton, who also worked at Y-12. After they met, Ted recalled, "It was just a matter of time before we were married in the Chapel on the Hill."


After the Manhattan Project, a highlight of his career was helping to launch the nuclear Navy, working as technical director to Admiral Hyman G. Rickover from 1949 to 1964. Rickover's program succeeded in launching the USS Nautilus in 1954 and peaceful uses of atomic energy with the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in 1957.  Rockwell captured this history in his book, The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference (1992). In the last couple of years, Ted succeeded in having a documentary film made about his experience with Rickover. Produced by Michael Pack, "Rickover" is in the final phase of production. The film has some wonderful recreations of scenes of young Rockwell standing up to a most demanding Rickover.

Ted and AHF President Cindy Kelly


The Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) has lost an invaluable friend and advisor. As Ted wrote in AHF's copy of his book, Creating the New World, "We were all proud to be making the bomb that would end the war. But most of us were even prouder to be giving humanity unlimited energy." We are grateful for having known Ted who helped usher in the atomic age with his own unlimited energy and enthusiasm.


New on AHF's "Atomic Wiki"


The Atomic Heritage Foundation is continuing to expand our Atomic Wiki and add more photographs and multimedia to the site, to make it more interactive. The Atomic Wiki has articles on many facets of the Manhattan Project, from biographies of scientists to an Atomic Timeline to information on each of the sites. The Wiki also has educational resources: lesson plans for teachers and research ideas for students on the Manhattan Project.

Operation Ivy Mike cloud, aerial view. This was the first test of a thermonuclear weapon.

We are currently working on articles discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project. Some of the articles we have recently added, thanks to our intrepid research assistant Owen Pagano, include Hanford and the Columbia River, The Decision to Build the Hydrogen Bomb, and The Superbomb Programs. We have also embedded videos in relevant articles, including oral history videos and some short documentary films AHF has produced in the last decade. We plan to continue to improve the Wiki to make it a terrific resource for students, teachers, and anyone interested in the history of the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and more.


Oak Ridge in the News 

Oak Ridge workers celebrating the end of the war
On April 30, the Washington Post published a detailed article, The Prophets of Oak Ridge, about the three protesters who broke into the Y-12 Plant last summer. The article draws a parallel between John Hendrix who in 1900 foresaw Manhattan Project-like developments and the trio of peace activists, including an 83-year-old nun, and their prophesies. The three successfully breached the security surrounding the Y-12 plant and reached the highly enriched uranium materials facility, the Fort Knox of uranium. After preliminary hearings, they now they await trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, TN.


Oak Ridge has also been in the news recently thanks to the success of Denise Kiernan's book, The Girls of Atomic City, which has been featured on the New York Times bestseller list and is currently the #1 bestseller on Amazon for 20th century history. If you have not read it yet, we highly recommend it! 


Thank you for your interest in the Manhattan Project and for contributing to our efforts.



Atomic Heritage Foundation