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A Guide to the Manhattan Project in Washington State
Guidebook on the making of the atomic bomb and history of the Manhattan Project at Hanford, Washington, plutonium production site, world's first full-scale nuclear reactor, home of B Reactor | Atomic Heritage Foundation

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Product Code: 220

The guide includes personal testaments to life in the secret installation at Hanford, Washington. Documentary photographs and excerpts from AHF’s extensive oral history collection bring to life the experiences of Hanford area residents before, during, and after World War II.

For the Manhattan Project, the Army 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.”

In addition to the Manhattan Project properties, the guidebook covers sites that played important roles in World War II and the Cold War. For example, the Pasco Naval Air Station trained nearly 1,900 cadets flying over 260,000 hours, making Pasco the third busiest naval air training station in the United States. At the Port of Benton in Richland, WA, the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park honors the United States Navy’s nuclear fleet and its sailors. Also highlighted is the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which bears the names of the 276 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were forced to leave the island in 1942.

The guide explains how to plan your visit to the Hanford unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, nearby interpretive centers including the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center and the Wanapum Heritage Center, and other attractions. Also included are suggested resources on Manhattan Project history and a nuclear history chronology.

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: 80 pages. Paperback.