Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Secret City





Secret societies are not a stranger to our globe’s history. These wonders of our past are not a foreign concept. BUT, did you know that there was once a secret city in the United States? In Tennessee no less?!

Yes, my friends, it is true. In 1942 the plans for this city began. When our Nation took a blow to one of our largest harbors in December of 1941 the leaders of our country as well as those in the field of science began cultivating an idea that would shape the results of World War II. The center of this idea was the possibility of creating a weapon that could diminish efforts of the Japanese leaders and hopefully stop one of the bloodiest wars our nations have ever seen.

The Manhattan Project was born from the 1942 planning. The center of that project revolved around choosing a location for the creation of the worlds first nuclear bomb. A secure area that could house this city would be one away from the coast but near enough to Washington, one with large amounts of uninhabited land but near a railway, and one with terrain that would be nearly impassable but habitable. The location first on the list was what is now called Oak Ridge, Tenn.

My knowledge of this city was quite minute until last weekend’s visit to the American Museum of Science and Energy, in Oak Ridge. Not only did I discover that there was more to it than the smokestacks you see from interstate 40 but I also discovered that Oak Ridge was in fact once a secret city. A secret city. What the heck am I talking about, right? Oak Ridge was a secret city. I mean just that. If you picked up a map of the country or heck, even the state, and looked for a town called Oak Ridge you wouldn’t find it. Only the men at the Pentagon and those involved in its creation knew there was even anything there.

Sure there were people helping to build this city and ultimately this bomb, but they didn’t even know what they were doing! A number of rural farmers and landowners received a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking, no, demanding their full cooperation in the matter of the purchase of their land...from there the Corps of Engineers recruited men and women to begin building the city. The workers knew they were helping in the war efforts but beyond that they knew nothing and they were told to say nothing. It wasn’t until after the bomb landed in Japan and the war ended that they knew how exactly they aided in war efforts. It wasn’t until then that the nation, the world, knew of Oak Ridge.

The facility that once created a “weapon of mass destruction” is now a facility that houses things like the world’s fastest supercomputer and participates in post-war work in the areas of science and engineering. Visit this site for more information. 

Amongst all the history was the earliest and most fascinating billboards and forms of public communication I have ever seen. With a background in PR/Advertising and larger portions of study dedicated to such forms of communication, I was so thrilled to see these snippets of history in the museum. I have found a number of examples thanks to google search.

If you are ever near Oak Ridge and would like a dose of World War II history, this museum is a must. It was absolutely amazing the amount of knowledge I gained. Obviously, this post is a little long and I didn’t even get to tell you the half of it! Like check out the photo of the women below. During war-time feminine hands worked just as good as the more masculine counterparts. Thank you for paving the way ladies. 

-Alison


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