Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: Trinity Site

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Trinity Site


Just because we have not blogged in two weeks doesn’t mean we have not been busy doing fun and interesting stuff.

We have been in Albuquerque for the past 10 days. While here we have visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Petroglyph National Monument, and Albuquerque Old Town. However, the main reason came to Albuquerque was to have access to the airport for a flight to St. Louis for our Grandson’s First Communion (a separate post on this is forthcoming).

Flat Stanley at Petroglyph NM
San Filipe de Neri Church
Albuquerque Old Town

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
I need to back up here. Yes, we have enjoyed ABQ but the highlight of the last couple of weeks (besides the trip to St. Louis) was our visit to the Trinity Site.

While at the Valley of Fires Recreation Area we learned that the Trinity Site (spot where the first atomic bomb was detonated) is open to the public only two days a year – the first Saturdays in April and October. So, we decided to stay in the area for a couple of more days and visit Trinity on Saturday April 6.
(Staying also gave us a chance to re-visit Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.)

Early Saturday morning we headed to the Stallion Range Center Entry point on the north end of White Sands Missile Range. We got to the entrance check-point at 7:45 about 15 minutes before it opened. We didn’t really know what to expect. This place is out in the middle of nowhere and not close to anything – would there be a crowd? Indeed, there was. We joined the line of cars about ½ mile from the gate. 

At the checkpoint you are given a pamphlet, which covers the history of Trinity. You also get a list of the rules. Stuff like no pictures until you reach ground zero, no stopping, no weapons, and no taking Trinitite from the site. What is Trinitite? It is a green glass like substance that was formed at the time of the blast by turning sand into Trinitite and it is considered an artifact from a National Historic Landmark.

 Once you go through the check-point and enter the Stallion Range you travel about 17 miles into White Sands Missile Range before you get to Ground Zero. At the site military and range employees help with everything from parking cars, staffing information, souvenir and food booths to serving as docents and site guides for what I would estimate the 2,500 visitors that were there during the two hours we stayed at the site.

After parking we walked about 100 yards to a fenced off area and Ground Zero where we walked around the atomic blast created creator. Well, not really a creator any longer. Since the blast, what was the creator has been filled with sand. If not for the markers, plaques, fence, signs, and postings the site would be indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape.  It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that this is not only where an explosion occurred that lead to the end of the war in the Pacific but also ushered in the Atomic age.

Flat Stanley at Ground Zero

While at Ground Zero you can also visit McDonald Ranch. 

This is where the plutonium core was assembled in a “clean room” – you know it was a clean room because there was as sign telling you to wipe your feet! Really…this little farmhouse was where a bomb that changed the world was assembled? Again, hard to imagine. 

JoAnne and I were both glad we changed our plans and got a chance to visit Trinity. During the last several weeks we have been visiting ancient pueblo sites, missions, frontier forts, and ghost towns. Making the leap from the early history of the area to the start of the atomic age is… well “one giant step”.

There is so much information, history, and interesting stories associated with the Manhattan Project and this site – more than I can or should try to cover in this post. I will let you check them out if you are interested in learning more.

Oh.. And no, JoAnne and I do not glow in the dark.

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