By Martin and Anne McBride
On Sept. 19, 1942, only two days after being appointed the head of the Manhattan Project in September 1942, Gen. Leslie R. Groves selected Oak Ridge as the first major site of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II.
Ultimately, $1.1 billion was spent on the huge, first-of-a-kind Oak Ridge nuclear plants and the fledgling “Secret City” of Oak Ridge. This expenditure represented 72 percent of the money spent on the three principal Manhattan Project sites: Oak Ridge; Hanford, Wash.; and Los Alamos, N.M.
The Oak Ridge tract was approximately 17 miles long by an average of seven miles wide. The Corps of Engineers paid $2.6 million dollars for the land and initially named the site the “Kingston Demolition Range.” Local opposition to having a demolition range in the area caused the name to be changed to “Clinton Engineer Works.” [Read more…]