Pending presidential approval, the towns that made the atomic bomb possible will soon be protected as a national park network. Last week, Congress passed a bill establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, an act that aims to memorialize and preserve the architecture that played a major role in the U.S.’s secret World War II nuclear weapons program.
The National Park Service recommended a Manhattan Project National Historical Park be established in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the headquarters of the U.S. atomic bomb research project where enriched uranium was produced; Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the first atomic bombs were designed and fabricated; and Hanford, Washington, where the army built the first large-scale plutonium production reactor in 1944. Most of the sites are currently owned by the Department of Energy.
The legislation preserves not only the labs and scientific buildings erected as part of the top-secret endeavor, but also the houses where scientists lived while working on the project. According to the New York Times, “The sites vary from the rustic home of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the project’s scientific head, to a pioneering reactor that made nuclear fuel, to a large Quonset hut for bomb assembly.”
President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law later this week.