Atom Bombası Üretmek İçin İnşa Edilen Gizli Bir Şehir: Oak Ridge

A Secret City Built to Produce an Atomic Bomb

II. World War II was one of the greatest destructions humanity has ever seen. The war, which caused the loss of millions of people’s lives, was the scene of terrible events and great dramas. But the atomic bomb used during the war was a brutal weapon even for this terrible war! The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, killed 80,000 people in the first place. In the following period, the number of deaths due to the atomic bomb would increase even more. Just 3 days later, another atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki caused the death of more than 40 thousand people! However, it was not easy to manufacture this terrible weapon. It required a lot of effort and a high level of secrecy. That’s why a secret production site and hard-spoken people were needed! This is why the city called “Oak Ridge” was built! This secret city, built from scratch in a remote corner of the USA, would change human history soon after it was founded. Here’s what you need to know about Oak Ridge…

The “Manhattan Project” initiated by the United States to develop nuclear weapons led to the establishment of the city of Oak Ridge

At the end of the 1930s, there was a terrible danger that affected the whole world: the Nazis! Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler caused thousands of people to die and thousands of people to leave their country. Among the people who had to leave their homes were scientists from around the world. Among the many scientists who went to the United States from different parts of Europe, especially from Germany, was the famous physicist Albert Einstein. In 1939, Einstein and a group of scientists shared with the USA that Germany had started to develop nuclear weapons. Then, the President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, gave the order to start nuclear weapons activities in the USA! Thus began the famous Manhattan Project. General Leslie Groves was put in charge of the project. With the start of the project, a secluded and sheltered work area was needed for nuclear research.

3 different sites selected for secret nuclear research in the USA

Los Alamos in New Mexico and Hanford/Richland in Washington state and Oak Ridge in Tennessee. Of these three top secret areas, the most important was the Oak Ridge area. Because this was the epicenter of the Manhattan Project. The most important work to produce the atomic bomb was to be carried out in the city of Oak Ridge.

II. During World War II, preparations for the construction of the secret city in Tennessee were also started.

The US government bought a farmland in a remote corner of Tennessee. The chosen area was perfectly suitable for building a secret city. The secluded location of the area made it less likely that the city would be bombed by the Germans or the Japanese. Again, the low population density in the region would allow both the control of the land and the keeping of the activities carried out. Still, the US government had to evacuate about 1,000 people living in the region on various pretexts.

The high workforce in the city would have to be met naturally and discreetly. The nearby city of Knoxville, home to 110,000 people, was an ideal place to meet this need.

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In addition, the electricity required for nuclear activities could be obtained from the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant at the Norris Dam, located near the region. In short, the area in Tennessee was perfectly positioned to build the city of Oak Ridge.

Thus began the construction of the city of Oak Ridge, quickly and in secrecy.

oak ridge

Structures built for nuclear activities were rapidly rising in the region. Huge laboratories for the atomic bomb, power plants to refine radioactive materials… However, it was also necessary to build a “normal” living space for dozens of workers who would work in the city. Project managers felt that the people who would work in the city should look like part of an ordinary community. Thus, in addition to nuclear facilities in the city, green areas, playgrounds, walking paths, detached houses, neighborhoods, etc. Many more “ordinary” things were built. So much so that at the end of the war, 75,000 people lived in the city, which was originally designed as a town of 13,000 people! From the outside, Oak Ridge was no different from any suburb.

The activities in the city were indeed carried out in great secrecy. So much so that Oak Ridge did not officially exist during the war.

The whole city was protected by special security measures. The area was not visible on any maps and was named ‘Site X’ or ‘Clinton Engineering Works. Workers working in the city also strictly adhered to the indoctrination about secrecy. None of the workers actually knew what they were working on anyway. Everyone who worked in the city knew only about their particular workplace. The big picture was only visible to senior officials!

Despite this, the civilians living nearby suspected that something was going on in the city.

However, it never occurred to anyone that the city of Oak Ridge was founded to produce the atomic bomb. People suspected that normal weapons and ammunition were being produced in the city for warfare. This production was quite normal during the war period.

Work in the city was finally completed and the first nuclear weapons test was successfully carried out on July 16, 1945.

After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, it was revealed why the city named Oak Ridge was actually built! The then US President Harry S. Truman shared with the public the secrets of the other two secret cities along with Oak Ridge. Thus, thousands of workers working in the city learned what they really were a part of, contributing to the production of the world’s most powerful and deadly weapon. This shocking situation initially became a great source of pride for the people living in the city. The city’s local newspapers were filled with reports of great joy that Oak Ridge had contributed to this move that would end the war. But later, the devastating effects of the atomic bomb appeared. This caused great horror to many people working in the city.

Oak Ridge survived the war

oak ridge

Oak Ridge became the 5th most populous city in the state of Tennessee at the end of the war! In fact, the city was the scene of the worst examples of racism in the USA for a while. African-Americans who came to the region were subjected to various inhumane treatments. The secret city, which was built to produce the atomic bomb, today hosts various nuclear research and renewable energy studies.

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