The U.S. Department of Energy’s public bus tour of federal sites in Oak Ridge is now offered to visitors nine months out of the year, versus only summer months as in the past.
This popular tour of the 33,000-acre DOE Oak Ridge Reservation offers visitors a first-hand look at all of the DOE’s Oak Ridge facilities and provides historical commentary on the transformation of the Oak Ridge Reservation during the past 70-plus 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 approximately 35,000 visitors from all 50 states. The three-hour DOE tour allows visitors to see the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation and learn about its rich history and how Oak Ridge became a secret city of 75,000 people with a mission to end World War II.
It also offers participants a chance to find out about the Department’s world-class missions underway in Oak Ridge in the areas of science and technology, science education, energy and nuclear fuel supply, national security, re-industrialization, technology transfer and economic development, and environmental management, a press release said.
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 (ETTP, 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 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 1940’s 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 government holidays, departing from the American Museum of Science and Energy located at 300 South Tulane Avenue, Oak Ridge, at 12 p.m., concluding at 3 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. Admission to AMSE 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).
All bus tour participants must be U.S. citizens, age 10 or older. Bus tour participants age 18 and older must have photo identification (driver’s license, passport, or approved form of alternate identification) in order to participate in the bus tour. Visit http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-enforcement-brief for more information and examples of acceptable forms of ID. If you require special accommodations for the bus tour, please contact AMSE at (865) 576-3200 at least 48 hours in advance.
The DOE’s Oak Ridge Office and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s 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, Oak Ridge Environmental Management contractor; and AMSE.
For more information, please call AMSE at (865) 576-3200, the DOE Oak Ridge Office of Public Affairs at (865) 576-0885, or visit www.amse.org.