Sights to See in Las Vegas, Nevada
The National Atomic Testing Museum
On East Flamingo Road in Las Vegas
you can visit one of the most unusual museums that visitors to this city in the desert can view. If
you consider that we're talking about Vegas, that's saying something, too. In fact, this
museum would be considered unusual anywhere, not just in Las Vegas, Nevada.
You see, at that site you will find The National Atomic Testing Museum.
Sponsored to a great degree by the Smithsonian, and run by the Nevada Test
Site Historical Foundation, it presents displays, videos, and educational resources documenting
the almost 50-year history of nuclear weapons testing in Nevada.
Though the major original site for atomic bomb tests during WWII was
actually near Alamogordo, New Mexico, by the time the hydrogen bomb came along,
atomic testing had shifted to Nevada at the Nevada Proving Grounds,
established on 11 January 1951 .
For over four decades, local residents of Las Vegas and visitors
to the local casinos would actually feel the earth shake and then see
the awe-inspiring mushroom clouds centered in the Nevada desert test sites
not too many miles away.
When the tests occured, gamblers would head under the tables as the
chandeliers swayed. Later, the testing moved underground where the fallout could be
contained. Despite that, however, the man-made earthquakes were just as
strong, if not more so.
In 1992, due to an agreement among the major powers to end
live testing, the smoke cleared, literally and figureatively,
and the ground became quiet. The tests may be a thing of the past, but
thier history has been preserved for all to learn about at the National
Atomic Testing Museum on East Flamingo Road.
Visitors to the museum can read about the growing power of H-bombs as
they progressed from January, 1951 to the final Las Vegas area test in September 1992.
As that time went by, the bombs got smaller but the explosions got much bigger. The
museum has numerous displays, videos and even a few interactive devices. Guests can
actually manipulate the same type of arms that were used to handle
radioactive material behind a protective lead-glass cage.
The Ground Zero Theater, known to some
as the GZ Theater, gives the visitor an in-depth presentation of the
efforts used to build the U.S. atomic arsenal. In this simulated concrete
bunker, complete with red lights and wooden benches with decor to match the real thing,
you'll get a glimpse into the world of the bomb makers and their products.
Despite their destructive power, most people are fascinated with
the blossoming mushroom clouds produced by the gigantic explosions.
There are innumerable photographs, including one depicting one of the
earliest American nuclear tests: the one at Bikini Atoll, 1954.
One second the small island was there, the next it was vaporized.
Housed inside the Frank H. Rogers Science and Technology Building, the museum was first opened in March
2005. It also employs an extremely knowledgeable staff, some of whom
actually worked at the test site, who are available to answer visitors' questions. Come
get the facts from those who witnessed the events first hand.
Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Rd.
(Just East of Paradise Rd.)
Las Vegas, NV 89119
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