Today is Oak Ridge’s 72nd birthday

Y-12 Calutron Operators

Women enriching uranium in calutrons at Y-12 as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II. (Photo by Ed Westcott)


It’s Oak Ridge’s birthday today, September 19.

Oak Ridge was picked for the top-secret Manhattan Project on September 19, 1942. That was the day 72 years ago when General Leslie Groves approved the acquisition of 59,000 acres of land along the Clinch River for what soon became the Manhattan Project, a federal effort to build the world’s first atomic bombs.

By the time President Roosevelt authorized the Manhattan Project on December 28, 1942, work on the East Tennessee site where the first production facilities were to be built was already under way.

Oak Ridge became the home of two uranium enrichment plants (K-25 and Y-12), a liquid thermal diffusion plant (S-50), and a pilot plutonium production reactor (X-10 Graphite Reactor). Groves approved Oak Ridge as the site for the pilot plutonium plant and the uranium enrichment plant in 1942. Manhattan Project engineers had to quickly build a town to accommodate 30,000 workers—as well as build the enormously complex plants. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge celebrates 70th birthday

Oak Ridge 70th Birthday

Local historians, officials, volunteers, and former Manhattan Project workers celebrate Oak Ridge’s 70th birthday on Wednesday. (Photo by D. Ray Smith)

Residents, officials, and historic preservationists celebrated Oak Ridge’s birthday on Wednesday with cake, historical displays, speeches, a preservation award, and a special free showing of “Fat Man and Little Boy.”

The celebration at Jackson Square marked the 70th anniversary of the day that Gen. Leslie Groves selected Oak Ridge as the first Manhattan Project site. The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.

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