Concerned that Nazi scientists were creating a bomb capable of horrific destruction, the U.S. government launched the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb before the Germans could. They tasked the best scientists and engineers available to harness the power of the atom, creating the atomic bomb.
The Manhattan Project consisted of three main sites: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Oak Ridge was responsible for the enrichment of uranium, U-235, which ultimately fueled the atomic bomb “Little Boy.” The site at Hanford created plutonium, which was used to create the atomic bomb “Fat Man.” Scientists and engineers developed weapon technology to use these enriched nuclear materials at Los Alamos.
On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped Little Boy on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and three days later dropped Fat Man on Nagasaki, Japan.
Between the three locations, the Manhattan Project cost more than $2 billion, equivalent to roughly $26 billion in 2015 dollars, and employed more than 130,000 men and women.
While the government launched the Manhattan Project to develop atomic weapons that would put an end to World War II, the project also became a catalyst for extraordinary advances in a variety of fields including medicine, power generation, and space exploration.
The park is not intended to celebrate the atomic bomb; rather, its purpose is to preserve the legacies and histories of people, events, science, and engineering that changed the world forever.