Visitors see Oak Ridge’s past and present
The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2014 Oak Ridge facilities public bus tour begins June 2 and continues through August 29. 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.
The reservation-wide tour is a popular attraction for tourists visiting the area. Since its inception in 1996, the DOE public tour program has attracted more than 30,000 visitors from all 50 states. The three-hour tour allows visitors to see the Oak Ridge Reservation and learn about its history. It also provides participants a chance to find out about the world-class missions underway in Oak Ridge.
Bus stops include:
- New Hope Center at the Y-12 National Security Complex: The New Hope Visitor Center’s History Room features displays and a video about the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and current Y-12 missions.
- New Bethel Baptist Church: 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 church is still used for special events and homecoming celebrations. The adjacent Bethel Cemetery features covered grave houses that are unique to the region.
- Historic Graphite Reactor: The Graphite Reactor, a national historic landmark 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): Tour visitors will see the refurbished Visitor’s Center at ETTP and learn about the gaseous diffusion process that enriched uranium for military and peaceful purposes from 1945 to 1985. The visit will include a perimeter tour of the site.
Visiting the American Museum of Science and Energy (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 available Monday–Friday, excluding government holidays (July 3 and 4), and depart from the AMSE, located at 300 South Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge. Tours begin at noon and conclude at 3 p.m.
United States citizens (ages 10+) can register for the tour at the AMSE. Seating is limited and determined on a first-come first-served basis, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. (EST).
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 Oak Ridge 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; B&W Y-12, management and operating contractor for NNSA; UCOR (URS | CH2M Oak Ridge, LLC), the Oak Ridge Environmental Management contractor; and the AMSE.
For more information, please call Lissa Clarke, AMSE, at (865) 576-3218, or DiAnn Fields, DOE at (865) 576-0885, or visit www.amse.org.