“Where the first atom bomb was detonated”
Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. This test was conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, at the new White Sands Proving Ground, which incorporated the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range. (The site is now the White Sands Missile Range.) The date of the test is usually considered to be the beginning of the Atomic Age. Trinity was a test of an implosion-design plutonium device. The weapon's informal nickname was "The Gadget". Using the same conceptual design, the Fat Man device was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. The Trinity detonation produced the explosive power of about 20 kilotons of TNT. In 1952, the site of the explosion was bulldozed, and the remaining trinitite was disposed of. On December 21, 1965, the 51,500-acre (20,800 ha) area Trinity Site was declared a National Historic Landmark district and, on October 15, 1966, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The landmark includes the base camp, where the scientists and support group lived; ground zero, where the bomb was placed for the explosion; and the Schmidt/McDonald ranch house, where the plutonium core to the bomb was assembled. Visitors to a Trinity Site open house are allowed to see the ground zero and ranch house areas. In addition, one of the old instrumentation bunkers is visible beside the road just west of ground zero. Remnants of Jumbo In September 1953, about 650 people attended the first Trinity Site open house. In 1967, the inner oblong fence was added. In 1972, the corridor barbed wire fence that connects the outer fence to the inner one was completed. Jumbo was moved to the parking lot in 1979; it is missing its ends from an attempt to destroy it in 1946 using eight 500 pounds bombs. More than sixty years after the test, residual radiation at the site measured about ten times higher than normal. The amount of radioactive exposure received during a one-hour visit to the site is about half of the total radiation exposure which a U.S. adult receives on an average day from natural and medical sources. The Trinity monument, a rough-sided, lava-rock obelisk around 12 feet high, marks the explosion's hypocenter, and Jumbo is still kept nearby.
Open first Saturday in April.
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