As we noted in a recent post, we had been moving far faster than we normally do because Gary had a couple date-specific things he wanted/needed to do. Well, the first of those items was to visit the Trinity Site -- the site of the first explosion of an atomic bomb. This took place on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert in what is now a part of the White Sands Missile Range. Few events have changed the course of the world as much as the start of the age of nuclear weapons.
Gary was aware of the Trinity Site but he had not thought there were any tours of it. But someone made him aware that they allow people to visit the site on two days of the year – the first Saturdays of April and October. So we structured our travel schedule to accommodate this visit. We arrived early at the site before a large caravan of people was scheduled in. We estimated that around 2,500 people came through the site in the six hours that the gates to the missile range were open. As you can see, there isn’t a crater at all anymore as it has been filled in. And even the original crater was fairly small as the bomb was not exploded on the ground.
The bomb was exploded atop a 100-foot steel tower, directly above the monument shown below. Three observation points were established about two miles each from ground zero with other observations points 10 and 20 miles away. The bomb exploded with the force of about 20,000 pounds of TNT. The average temperature in the fire ball was calculated at nearly 15,000 degrees F. The steel tower was vaporized. Observers at the 10-mile station reported heat the equivalent of opening a hot oven. Windows were broken up to 120 miles away and the fireball mushroom cloud reached 7.5 miles high.
The sand around the ground zero was turned into a form of glass, subsequently named Trinitite. Most of it was removed from the site but there are still many particles of it as shown by the ones in my hand.
So, is it really more radioactive at Trinity Site? Yes, just look at my crazed husband; however, he is like that all the time. Radioactivity is about 10 times higher than outside the bomb blast area. But let’s think about that a bit. An hour spent at Trinity is about the same as 10 hours spent outside the site but when you think about that in relation to the nearly 9,000 hours of a year, it really is quite negligible additional exposure. But then that glass I had in my hand was the most radioactive material at the site………………
More information on Trinity Site can be found at: