U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Photo of the Day

Entrance to K-25, an uranium enrichment facility, 1945.

Birthplace of the Atomic Bomb

Top Secret City: Oak Ridge

The “Little Boy” bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, was made with uranium-235 from Oak Ridge.

Here is a collection of historical photos from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a town established by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1942 on an isolated farm. It was a secret location that became one of the most significant sites of the Manhattan Project.

Thousands of people who lived and worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the 1940’s had no idea what they were actually doing every day, performing their tasks as directed without asking questions, surrounded by constant reminders that they needed to keep their traps shut or else. It wasn’t until the United States bombed Hiroshima in 1945 that they learned they were processing uranium as part of The Manhattan Project, many of them exposed to radiation for years.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941, the area that would become Oak Ridge was 59,000 acres of century-old farmlands and rural communities. But in 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers purchased the land that would become the first and largest of the three?Manhattan Project?sites. But just two and a half years after Oak Ridge was founded in 1942, the city sky-rocketed to a population of 75,000, making it the fifth-largest city in Tennessee and the largest of the three Manhattan Project?sites.

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