Step Inside The Abandoned Nevada Town That Survived The Atomic Era
Present-day Nevadans might be surprised to find out that during the Cold War years, almost 80% of all nuclear tests by the United States took place in our state. The Nevada Test Site is an area in Nye County about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Once called the Nevada Proving Grounds, this federal site was created in 1951 for nuclear testing and covers 1,360 square miles. Read on as we explore this veritable
“Doom Town in Nevada.”
The Nevada Test Site is located in Nye County.
Between 1951 to 1992, more than 800 tests were conducted here, making it a significant location in the tumultuous
history of the state
, as well as in this country overall.
Yucca Flat is a basin within the NTS that was the site of most of the underground tests.
The basin's dry soil was perfect for drilling to create the testing shafts. After the explosions,
craters were left behind
from the underground impact. This gave the flat a "moon-like" appearance.
Sedan Crater, also located in Yucca Flat, is the largest man-made crater in the U.S.
The crater came about in 1962 during an underground nuclear test called Operation Plowshare. The crater is 320 feet deep and almost 1,300 feet wide. This particular project was actually developed to test the use of nuclear technology for excavation for building tunnels, canals, etc. and not for
Fake "homes" were built for the military nuclear tests at Yucca Flat.
This area was known as "Survival Town" or "Doom Town" by the scientists. Homes and buildings were created in the typical style and materials of both U.S. and European homes at the time of the tests
in the 1950s.
The site where the blasts took place is one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the U.S. Today, the U.S. Department Energy regularly monitors radiation levels at the NTS, and is also charged with overall management of the site.
One of the creepier aspects of the 1951 tests (dubbed Operation Teapot) were mannequins added in to "populate" the faux town. The mannequins were placed inside of the buildings, along the streets and even inside of parked cars within the testing site town. That just adds to the allure of this unusual
Nevada ghost town.
The town of Mercury is located within the NTS and it's a "closed" town. Only government workers and scientists who are using the area for testing use the facilities at Mercury.
The tests here were conducted both above and underground. Many of the above ground tests could be seen from 100 miles away and it was not unusual for
Las Vegas residents
to see mushroom clouds over the horizon. They even became something of a reason for tourists to visit.
There are public tours available of parts of the NTS. Tours are held a few times a year, they must be booked months in advance, and all visitors to the site must be at least 14-years-old.
The tours are free and leave from Las Vegas using a tour bus. You may not bring any recording equipment of any kind, including cell phones. A background check is also required. For more information, contact the
National Atomic Testing Museum
in Las Vegas.
Have you ever been to this Nevada Doom Town? Would you visit this abandoned town in Nevada? We’d love to have you share your experience or thoughts in the comments section below!
If you’re interested in other abandoned towns in Nevada, check out this
article about Goldfield in Esmerelda County!
For other ideas for outdoor adventures in “The Silver State,” check out this video:
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.
Address: Nevada Test Site Area 400, Nevada, USA
The OIYS Visitor Center
Exploring the Wonders of Nevada
January 29, 2023
What are some other Nevada ghost towns?
Hamilton – Located between Eureka and Ely, just off highway 50 in White Pine County, it was founded in 1868 after silver ore was discovered in the area.
Gold Point – Located about 300 miles south of Reno in Esmeralda County, the town still has several original and a few restored buildings
Unionville – Located south of Mill City in Pershing County it survived for about 10 years, at its largest home to approximately 3,000 residents.
Learn more on this
Nevada ghost town road trip itinerary.
What are some other interesting facts about Nevada?
Despite being the driest state in the U.S., Nevada was nevertheless named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range which means "snow-covered."
The Hoover Dam, the largest public works project in the U.S., possesses a greater structural volume than the largest pyramid in Egypt.
The state’s first permanent white settlement called Mormon Station was founded in 1815, but today the area is now called Genoa.
interesting facts about Nevada in this fascinating article.
What are some of the natural wonders in Nevada?
Valley of Fire State Park – The park is the largest and oldest state park in Nevada.
The Lunar Crater National Natural Landmark – This volcanic landmark encompasses an astounding 400 acres in size.
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – This popular hiking spot was Nevada's first conservation area.
Learn more about the
natural wonders in Nevada in this article.