Visitors see Oak Ridge’s past and present
The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 Oak Ridge facilities public bus tour began March 3 and continues through November 27. The tour offers visitors a first-hand look at the DOE’s Oak Ridge facilities and provides historical commentary on the transformation of the Oak Ridge Reservation during the past 70 years, a press release said.
The reservation-wide tour is a popular destination for tourists visiting the area, the release said. Since its inception in 1996, the DOE public tour program has attracted more than 40,000 visitors from all 50 states. The three-hour tour allows visitors to see the Oak Ridge Reservation and learn historical facts and updates on the world-class missions underway in Oak Ridge.
The bus tour itinerary includes:
New Hope Center at the Y-12 National Security Complex (bus stop): The New Hope Visitor Center facility History Room features displays and a video about the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and current Y-12 missions.
New Bethel Baptist Church (bus stop): Founded in 1851, New Bethel Baptist Church and cemetery was officially closed as a house of worship by former church members in 1949 following the area’s Manhattan Project incorporation into the Oak Ridge Reservation. The Bethel cemetery features covered grave houses that are unique to the region, and the church is still used for special events and homecoming celebrations.
Spallation Neutron Source (drive by): The Spallation Neutron Source, or SNS, is an accelerator-based neutron source facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world of scientific research and industrial development.
Historic Graphite Reactor (bus stop): A national historic landmark, the Graphite Reactor, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, served as the pilot plant that led to the first production of plutonium. Visitors can view the world’s oldest nuclear reactor and tour the interior of the building.
East Tennessee Technology Park (formerly K-25) (drive by): Tour visitors will learn about the gaseous diffusion process that enriched uranium for military and peaceful purposes from 1945 to 1985.
Visiting the American Museum of Science and Energy, or AMSE, and participating in the public bus tour allows visitors to go behind the scenes and explore the lives of those who lived and worked behind the fences of the 1940s city of Oak Ridge, also known as the Secret City. Visitors will experience the race to build the first atomic bomb through artifacts, audiovisuals, live demonstrations, and interactive exhibits.
Tours are now available March through November, excluding federal holidays, departing from the American Museum of Science and Energy located at 300 South Tulane Avenue, Oak Ridge, at 11:30 a.m., concluding at 2:30 p.m. The tour schedule is as follows:
- March (Monday and Friday)
- April and May (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
- June-August (Monday through Friday)
- September and October (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
- November (Monday and Friday)
Bus tour registration is offered two ways: online at www.amse.org or walk-in registration at AMSE, with seating first come, first served.
United States citizens (ages 10+) can register for the tour at the AMSE.
AMSE admission includes access to the museum’s interactive and historical exhibits, live demonstrations, and the DOE public bus tour. Prices are $5 per adult, $4 per senior citizen (65+), and $3 for students (ages 10–17). Bus tour participants must be U.S. citizens and have photo identification. If you require special accommodations for the bus tour, please contact the AMSE at (865) 576-3200 at least 48 hours in advance.
The DOE’s ORNL Site Office and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Production Office sponsor the tour program. Tour partners include UT-Battelle, which operates the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Consolidated Nuclear Security, management and operating contractor for NNSA; UCOR (URS | CH2M Oak Ridge, LLC), the Oak Ridge Reservation Environmental Management contractor; and AMSE.
For more information, please call AMSE at (865) 576-3200, the DOE ORNL Site Office Public Affairs Office at (865) 576-7710, or visit www.amse.org.