“Atomic City”, Las Vegas Nevada

environmental Strategist®, between the lines:  Every Community has their own environmental legacy.  Whether it’s just some old gas stations or dry cleaners with leaking underground tanks to the Exxon Valdez, Flint Water Crisis, Three Mile Island, Libby Montana…, every community is impacted by environmental contamination.

As I travel around the country doing my live environmental seminars, I always like to review the communities environmental legacy where I will be speaking.  I am traveling this week to Las Vegas to do a CIC Advanced Ruble seminar, and below is a little environmental legacy information I thought you might enjoy on “Atomic City”.

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Photo Credit: www.lasvegas360.com

“Atomic City”, Las Vegas Nevada

To create an effective arsenal the United States Government had to test bombs and they picked Las Vegas.  Las Vegas did not have gambling so testing nuclear bombs was determined to be a good way to create jobs and a major highway went within 7 miles of the test site.  The population of Las Vegas at the time was 50,000.

  • The land where nuclear testing took place is 65 miles NE from Las Vegas and is called “Atomic Ground Zero”.
  • Jan 27 1951 the first nuclear weapon was released from the air in Nevada, from 3,000 feet. The next day they set off another bomb and in just 10 days 5 Atomic bombs were set off. Between 1951 and 1992 there were nearly 1,000 Atomic detonations at the Nevada test site.  100 of them above ground 828 were underground.
  • In 1951 the Government built Mercury Nevada (Once known as Jackass Flats, Nv., now part of the Nevada National Security Site, also known as one of the most contaminated sites in the United States) to house all of the 10,000 employees and the reason they called it mercury was because of the former mercury mines and they saw cans of mercury along the road used by gold miners to test for gold.
  • Las Vegas had atomic bomb detonation celebrations for people to come and watch the sky light up at 4 AM. They called it “Atomic Tourism”. The Government helped to promote Atomic Tourism as safe and fun with no consideration for nuclear fallout. (We know today that nuclear fallout from Atomic testing travels around the world).
  • What would appear to be a star at the top of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign is said to represent an Atomic Bomb detonation
  • The 1953 year book for Las Vegas High school had an atomic mushroom cloud on its cover
  • Vegas casinos had signs on the roulette wheels and the dice tables that said house rules are if the ball clicks or dice flip because of some trembling house rules prevail.
  • At the Nevada Test site they built small towns in the blast zones called “Doom Towns” and they positioned families of mannequins and towns operating to see how they would be impacted. The mannequins were supplied by JC Penny. Once test were done, JC Penny took the mannequins back and no one has any idea what they did with them.
  • On a side note: The Manhattan project that developed the nuclear bomb employed over 130,000 people around the country.
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