A three hour drive, and 190 miles from Santa Fe, the world’s first nuclear explosion took place 78 years ago today at the Trinity site. The nuclear bomb test was conducted on the plains of the Alamogordo Bombing Range in southern New Mexico. J. Robert Openhiemer, the father of the atomic bomb, named the area Trinity from the book, Holy Sonnets by John Donne. During the military-run exercise the Army chose to call site Project T but in the end poetry won out and the first nuclear explosion will forever be known as the Trinity site.
Santa Fe’s 109 E. Palace
In all of Santa Fe’s history, one defining event during World War II reverberates even today. The Manhattan Project military checkpoint was located just off the Plaza at 109. E. Palace Avenue. It was there that military personnel, scientists, contractors, janitors, and everyone involved with the creation of the world’s first atomic bomb had to register. The only address for the Manhattan Project was P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
New Mexico’s Secret City
During World War II only authorized personnel entered the lab facilty at Los Alamos. A military checkpoint protected the nuclear offices. Family members who wanted to visit loved ones working at the lab needed government approval. Los Alamos, New Mexico was unlike any other place in America during World War II. The secret city was located 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe on a mesa in the Jemez Mountains. It was the ideal location for the U.S. government to create the atomic bomb. It was far off and away from any metropolitan area. To get to the atomic hamlet you had to climb a difficult mountainous terrain even in the dead of winter. In 1957 the gates that protected the secret city were taken down. People were now at liberty to travel to and from Los Alamos without scrutiny.