Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trinity Site

New Mexico played an important part in the development of the atomic bomb.

Los Alamos National Lab was constructed in the mountains of North central New Mexico to research and build the first bomb.  The town of Los Alamos grew as the need for housing for the scientists and technicians.

The location for testing the first bomb was selected as the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico.  Later, the range became White Sands Missile Range.

Trinity Site is a National Historic Landmark.  The landmark is a 51,500 acre area on the White Sands Missile Range. The site is open 2 days a year - the first Saturday of April and the first Saturday of October.

This morning, my cousin and I were  out of Albuquerque at "O-Dark-30".  Stopped into Socorro for a light breakfast and heading to the site.  From the San Antonio exit of I-25, head East about 11-12 miles to the road to Stallion Gate. There was a line of vehicles waiting for access to the site when we arrived about 8am.  It took us an hour to get to the gate.  (see upper photo).

He had no problems getting onto the range (you need your state government ID or passport for every occupant and the insurance certificate and registration for your vehicle).  Another 15 miles or so we were at the parking lot for viewing the site.

When we arrived the site, my cousin and I estimated that had to be nearly 1000 people that were already here or already leaving the site.  It is about 1/4 mile walk from the parking lot to the site.  Thankfully, there was a large "golf cart" (8-10 person) with driver to carry "handicapped" visitors.  With my knee problems, I availed myself of the ride to the site.

Of course, everyone wanted a photo of themselves or family at the ground zero marker (see photo to the right). There are remains of the of the original 100 foot tower (basically nothing).  On the fence to the far side of the site had photos of the detonation, and some of the people that were out at the site.  There was ever a "polo" teams at the site!  There is a covered shelter protecting the portion of the original crated cause by the detonation.

The bring in a "fatman" casing on a trailer to show the basic size of the bomb.  The last stop for me at the site was a stop at the the National Park Service vendor to get at least a bood about the test.  Ended up with a good book, at DVD and hat pin.

From there, Don and I boarded the bus taking us over to the McDonald Ranch House.  This was where the plutonium core of the bomb was assembled.  The house was left to the elements for many years until Commander of White Sands decided in was a important part of history and had the house restored.  There are a couple outbuilding at the ranch.  They are basically ruins and think there is no plans to restore them.

By the time we boarded the bus back to the parking lot, my legs had had it.  It was a little after noon when we got into the car and headed back off the base.  On the way back out of the gate, there was still a line of about 2 mile long waiting for access to enter the base!  It seams there was not any "slack" time to visit the site!

We headed back to the highway, intending to stop at the Owl Bar for a burger and brew.  Unfortunately, a lot of other folks at the same idea.  There was a line to get into the bar and for seating.  I am not big on waiting for tables to eat.  I convinced Don (I was driving) and it would be better to get food in Socorro. we stopped at the Bodega Burger Co in Socorro.  (see lower photo)

The weather was a bit "iffy".  Rain moved South further than first forecast.  We had some rain driving down to Socorro.  After our light breakfast, he headed to the site.  It was mostly overcast at the site, sun trying to peak out and even a couple sprinkles of rain while we were there.  We saw there had been a heavy shower that came through San Antonio.  We hit some more rain on the way back North to Albuquerque.

It was a interesting day.  I dropped Don back at his house in Abq,  It was about 4pm when I got home in Rio Rancho.  I grabbed my camera, processed most of the photos, wrote a short facebook post and crashed into bed for a long nap.

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