Why Congress Should Establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Read an in-depth story from the Spring 2010 issue of National Parks magazine: "The Big One" 
Read our press release on establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
Read NPCA’s Testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (PDF)

NPCA supports Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s recommendation that Congress establish a new national park commemorating the Manhattan Project. This top-secret government operation employed more than 100,000 workers between 1942 and 1945, pushing the limits of science and ethics, altering the course of World War II, and forever changing history. If approved, the park would encompass three different educational sites in Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington.

Read our recent blog post interviewing Atomic Heritage Foundation President Cynthia Kelly on her years of work to preserve these historic sites.

Why preserve this controversial part of American history?

• A new national park would help the public understand the Manhattan Project in the context of World War II.
Park Service interpretations of this event would help the public understand the place of the atomic bomb in the context of the war. Balanced viewpoints would include divergent opinions on the bomb’s significance and the complex emotions of project participants.

• A new national park would give visitors insight into the continuing relevance of the atomic bomb to American and world history.
The Manhattan Project continues to inform military and national security issues, geopolitics, investment in scientific research, and advancements in atomic energy and nuclear medicine. Learning more about the Manhattan Project is essential to understanding its complicated political, moral, and cultural legacy. 

• A new national park would preserve the historic places that convey the human, social, and political reality.
Preserving the sites where events actually took place gives the public an authentic experience of the places that shaped history. Similar to sites commemorating the Trail of Tears, or Civil War battles, or the assassinations of historic figures, the ability to be present on hallowed ground honors the fallen and fosters a deeper public understanding. 

• A new national park would have minimal costs associated with it.
The government already owns the land and historic Manhattan Project properties. The Department of Energy would save an estimated $100 million by preserving the Manhattan Project properties—such as the famous B Reactor at Hanford, Washington—rather than destroying and disposing of them. The National Park Service study recommends that it make use of existing museums and interpretive centers such as the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Los Alamos Historical Society Museum in New Mexico.

• Creating three different units of this park would stimulate the local economies.
Research shows that national parks generate $4 in value for every federal dollar invested in them. Further, visitors to national parks spend more than $11 billion annually in the local regions around the parks.

For more information, see our press release.

Historic photo of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, project site by Department of Energy.


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