Nevada November 03, 2016
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.
Between 1951 to 1992, more than 800 tests were conducted in the Nevada Test Site.
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 military purposes.
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.
One of the creepier aspects of the 1951 tests (dubbed Operation Teapot) were the 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.
Tests 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.
The site where the blasts took place is one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the U.S.
The U.S. Department Energy regularly monitors radiation levels at the NTS.
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 NTS is currently managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.
There are public tours available of parts of the NTS.
Tours are held a few times a year and these must be booked months in advance. Visitors 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 Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas.
Would you visit the Nevada Testing Site? Share your thoughts in the comments!