The guide includes personal testaments to life in the secret installation at Hanford, Washington. The Corps of Engineers speedily built hundreds of standardized “alphabet houses” to accommodate the influx of workers from across the country. With rows of identical houses, children often had a hard time finding their home. The DuPont Company signed on to manage the entire operation, from designing the reactor and other plants to building the sprawling industrial complex connected by 158 miles of railroad tracks. The Manhattan Project transformed the Tri-Cities area from small agricultural communities to bustling frontier towns. The Army’s development paved the way for Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick to become the large and economically successful cities they are today, proud of their seminal role in World War II.
The book describes the Hanford Engineer Works, as the site was known, and the enormous human capital involved. Fifty thousand people worked on the construction alone, requiring eight mess halls that served an average of 19,500 meals. Producing plutonium at Hanford involved three major operations—fuel fabrication, reactor operations, and chemical separation to extract the plutonium---and countless innovations in technology. Governor Chris Gregoire commented, “Like no other place, Hanford’s B Reactor serves as a monument to our nation’s ingenuity and determination.” The guidebook highlights the challenges of designing these first-of-a-kind facilities. As David Nicandri, President of the Washington State Historical Society, said, “Wherever one stands on the use of nuclear weapons, Hanford represents a significant chapter in the history of engineering.”
Washington also turned out planes and ships and trained pilots. From the Boeing factory at Renton that produced the B-29 Superfortress (the planes that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki), to Bremerton’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, to Pasco’s Naval Air Station, Washington was a major contributor to the nation’s success in World War II. A mess hall full of Hanford workers.
Filled with colorful photographs and engaging stories, the guide provides an excellent overview to this fascinating chapter in Washington’s history. As Senator Patty Murray wrote for the book jacket, “Hanford and Washington State played a critical role in the Manhattan Project. We need to ensure that future generations can reflect on and learn from this history.”
Length: 60 pages. Paperback.