“There was construction going on everywhere you looked,” Bill Wilcox remembered, describing his first impressions of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. “Trucks and people just crawling all over the place, hammers and banging. Wooden structures going up everywhere. Nothing was paved, and there weren’t any sidewalks.”
Wilcox was one of the thousands of people who moved to the new “Secret City” of Oak Ridge to work on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret World War II effort to develop an atomic bomb.
The Atomic Heritage Foundation has launched a new online interpretive program on Oak Ridge with 16 audio/visual vignettes. This beta program is part of AHF’s “Ranger in Your Pocket” series on the Manhattan Project, which focuses on former Manhattan Project sites and features vignettes with eyewitness accounts and expert commentary. AHF welcomes feedback and will improve and expand upon the program over the next year, a press release said.
In September 1942, Manhattan Project director General Leslie Groves designated “Site X,” approximately 59,000 acres of land on the Clinch River in rural eastern Tennessee, as the site for the project’s uranium production facilities. Approximately 3,000 people living in the area in five small farming communities were forced to leave their homes and land with minimal compensation. Construction of a new city began at breakneck speed. By the end of World War II, some 75,000 people would call Oak Ridge home, making it the fifth-largest city in Tennessee. [Read more…]