The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will open an exhibit of 80 photographs, including both rarely seen images taken in 1945 at the Trinity Site near Socorro and images taken in 2012 of the same locations. The exhibit is called “Green Glass Morning: Dawn of the Atomic Age”; it opens on June 2, 2012.
The Trinity Site, one of New Mexico’s most historic locations, is no longer covered with the glassified remains of the desert sand, known as “Trinitite,” left from the intense heat of the Trinity test on July 16, 1945. On that day the secret atomic bomb project at Los Alamos was tested with the detonation of the “gadget,” leaving a covering of melted green glass on the desert floor. Most of the chunks of green Trinitite were later removed, although visitors can still find small pieces of it on the ground.
The unclassified photographs were given to the Museum by personnel at the White Sands National Monument (which now encompasses the Trinity Site), after being stored in obscurity for decades. The images tell the story of the establishment of the base camp in 1944 by soldiers who hauled their drinking water in from Socorro, NM, and shot antelope with machine guns for food. There are images of the 100-ton test platform tower (a test prior to the main test of the “gadget”), of the Jumbo container (built to contain the explosion, but never used), bunkers built to shield photographic and scientific experiment equipment, and much more.
“These photos depict the secret activities of the remote desert site,” said Jim Walther, Director of the Museum. “They are a fascinating glimpse into a time when no one really knew what would be the outcome of the many months of work in Los Alamos.”
The Trinity Site is open to the public twice a year on the first Saturday in April and in October. The Museum hosts a docent-led tour for these events. Glenn Fye, a photo archivist, took the recent images of the site during one of those days, presenting Trinity as it is seen today.
The exhibit will remain on display through September; there is no additional cost to view the exhibit beyond the regular admission of $8 for adults and $7 for seniors and youth.
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