American Press Travel News-Bob and Barb “On The Road Again-this time in Oak Ridge, TN–Secret City No Longer a Secret
“Shhh, don’t ask and don’t tell was the official mantra of, and for anyone living and working in Oak Ridge, Tennessee over 7-decades ago.
Barb and I jumped at the opportunity to check out a terrific area that offers museums, fishing, great restaurants, and even bird watching, not necessarily in that order.”
Imagine visiting a city that wasn’t even on the map until the late 40’s. People who lived in that city had no address and phone available to the outside world. Their street addresses were in coded names. It was as if they lived on an island, did everything together on a social basis with what turned out to be an extended family of some 75,000 people. These were specialists, and their families in unique scientific fields in physics, chemistry electrical and chemical engineering, boiler making, construction specialists, metallurgists, and heavy construction development where K-25, a mile long was the largest building under cover of roof, at 44-acres was constructed at that time.
In1941, just after Pearl Harbor was bombed, most all of these folks were brought to a place that they couldn’t write home about, or have their friends and family visit.
They were on a mission, an incredible mission to assist in ending the war in the Pacific and what they wrought, the Atom Bomb did just that, after this hellish bomb was unleashed on Japan, it helped save hundreds of thousands of our service men and women, who would have had to storm the beaches of Japan, and those people that would assist them.
Oak Ridge is the city that allowed teams of physicists and brain stormer’s like Einstein and Teller to name just a very few, to help make this deed a reality. Today, about 8-decades later, there is still tight security for much of the business end of the city that is devoted to developing modern technological advances in nuclear medicine, nuclear power and various other technologies, with some of them absolutely top secret even today.
Some facts about early Oak Ridge are in order here: The Oak Ridge Reservation encompassed 59,000 acres in 1940s, Oak Ridge used one-seventh of the electricity produced in the U.S. during full production, the average age in Oak Ridge at the time was 27, Oak Ridge didn’t appear on a map until 1949, it was not incorporated as a city until 1959. Because of the secrecy demands of the Manhattan project, the Oak Ridge High School football team was only allowed to play away games, and the opposing team was not given the team roster of the players, they were only known by numbers. Every person over the age of 12 had to wear an identification badge at all times during the 40’s.
Visiting the American Museum of Science & Energy we passed by a large image of
Einstein who had penned a letter to President Roosevelt that helped convince him to initiate the development of the “bomb” before Nazi Germany could do it. This letter helped kick off the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. The entire story is now in plain sight for visitors to this museum and it’s a terrific place to bring the family. Any age range can learn much from the hands-on displays and mind games that challenge with their simple and complex games designed to broaden the mind and enlighten the curious. Oak Ridge continues to earn the U.S. the title of “Super Power.” Live demonstrations, audiovisuals, machines, and devices will definitely keep you and the children entertained and delighted. We also visited John Rice Erwin’s open-air museum called “the most authentic and complete replica of pioneer Appalachian life in the world.” The museum contains over 250,000 pioneer relics including 30 log structures from pioneer times, a chapel, a schoolhouse, cabins and barns replete with actual relics of those times. Outstanding!
. We went fly-fishing with guide Clayton Gist (865) 806-7803 and yes, got braggin’ rights! Gist explained that the Clinch River is probably the premier trout river in Tennessee. We headed for Big Ed’s Pizza at Broadway in Oak Ridge, terrific on our way home.