Nuclear Tourism

The spring issue of the Washington Post Magazine has an article by Frank Bures about visiting America’s Cold War heritage sites. Bures drives to two Minuteman missile sites and the phased array radar at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in North Dakota, but he missed the most important Cold War heritage complex that’s open, at least intermittently, to the public. If the missile silos on the northern plains were the front line of the Cold War’s nuclear standoff, then the Nevada Test Site was the place that made their weapons meaningful. While the biggest blasts took place elsewhere (in the Pacific, or at Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands), NTS was where most American nuclear tests were done, converting the incomprehensible abstract powers of a warhead (just what is the effect of a kiloton, anyways?) into barely-comprehensible of scenes of actual destruction. As a result, the NTS is pretty heavily contaminated but it’s safe enough to visit on a day trip, which the Department of Energy runs on a monthly basis. Aside from the Trinity test site, which is open twice a year, there’s no place closer to the core of the Cold War experience.

h/t Frank Blazich

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