Atomic History in the West

From 1945 to 1993, over one thousand atomic weapons were detonated as part of the United States Nuclear Testing Program. In the years between 1951 and 1962, these tests were performed above ground at the Nevada Nuclear Testing Site. The Atomic Energy Commission was responsible for the program, but they did not warn the general public of the dangers of radiation. The bombs were much larger than the desert could hold. This tour describes the multiple ways the American public was affected by government negligence and the race for military superiority.

Navajo Vanadium Miners in Monument Valley

A critical component to building atomic weapons is vanadium, an element that is also radioactive. One area with vanadium in plentiful amounts is Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border within the Navajo Nation. Recognizing the opportunity for…

Atomic Veterans: Orville E. Kelly and Thomas H. Saffer

It was 5:30 a.m. on the morning of June 24, 1957 when second-lieutenant Thomas H. Saffer knelt in a trench at the Nevada Nuclear Testing Site. He and his fellow service-men had been assigned to experience the full effects of a nuclear explosion as…

Bullock v. United States: Radioactive Sheep

It was an early, spring morning in 1953 in eastern Nevada when brothers Kern and McRae Bulloch were grazing their sheep. Just miles east of the Nevada Nuclear Testing Site, these brothers were witness to one of the largest nuclear tests performed by…

Downwinders in Court: Irene Allen v. United States

When deciding where to perform nuclear tests, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) looked westward. Southern Nevada was close to the Los Alamos Laboratory where the weapons were designed, near the Four Corners region rich with the uranium they needed,…