ⓘ Atomic tourism

Atomic tourism

ⓘ Atomic tourism

Atomic tourism is a recent form of tourism in which visitors learn about the Atomic Age by traveling to significant sites in atomic history such as museums with atomic weapons, missile silos, vehicles that carried atomic weapons or sites where atomic weapons were detonated.

In the United States, the Center for Land Use Interpretation has conducted tours of the Nevada Test Site, Trinity Site, Hanford Site, and other historical atomic age sites, to explore the cultural significance of these Cold War nuclear zones. The book Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America describes the purpose of this tourism as "windows into the American psyche, landmarks that manifest the rich ambiguities of the nations cultural history." A Bureau of Atomic Tourism was proposed by American photographer Richard Misrach and writer Myriam Weisang Misrach in 1990.

The phenomenon is not exclusive to North America. Visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone often visit the nearly deserted city of Pripyat. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Genbaku Dome, which survived the destruction of Hiroshima, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site at the center of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Bikini Atoll was at one time the site of a diving tourism initiative. As of 2012, China planned to build a tourist destination at its first atomic test site, the Malan Base at Lop Nur in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

During the early atomic age when fission was viewed as a sign of progress and modernity, the city of Las Vegas and its Chamber of Commerce nicknamed Vegas as the "Atomic City" in the mid 1940s and early 1950s in an attempt to attract tourists. So called "bomb viewing parties" took place on desert hilltops, or more famously at the panoramic Sky Room at the Desert Inn, and casinos held Miss Atomic pageants while serving Atomic Cocktails. <


1.1. Atomic museums Research and production

  • Savannah River Site, South Carolina - production site of plutonium and tritium
  • National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada - Nevada Test Site
  • Bradbury Science Museum, Los Alamos, New Mexico - history of the Manhattan Project
  • George Herbert Jones Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois - where plutonium was first isolated and characterized
  • Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant, Obninsk - the first nuclear reactor in the world that produced commercial electricity
  • X-10 Graphite Reactor, Oak Ridge, Tennessee - first nuclear reactor to produce Plutonium 239
  • Los Alamos Historical Museum, Los Alamos, New Mexico - items from the Manhattan Project
  • Experimental Breeder Reactor I, Arco, Idaho - first nuclear reactor to produce electrical power, first breeder reactor, and first reactor to use plutonium as fuel
  • American Museum of Science and Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee - bomb casings
  • Hanford Site, Washington - location of the B Reactor which produced some of the plutonium for the Trinity test and the Fat Man bomb
  • Strategic missile forces museum in Ukraine, Ukraine

1.2. Atomic museums Delivery vehicles

  • National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Albuquerque, New Mexico - missiles and rockets
  • Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Wall, South Dakota - Launch Control Facility Delta-01 with its corresponding underground Launch Control Center and Launch Facility Missile Silo Delta-09
  • Tinian Airfield, Northern Mariana Islands - launch site for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II
  • White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
  • Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, Ashland, Nebraska - a museum focusing on aircraft and nuclear missiles of the United States Air Force
  • Titan Missile Museum, Sahuarita, Arizona - public underground missile museum
  • South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Box Elder, South Dakota - Minuteman Missile Transporter truck, 44th Missile Wing Training Launch Facility Training Missile Silo
  • Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site, Cooperstown, North Dakota - last surviving complete facilities from USAF 321st Missile Wing 01Nov63-30Sep98, namely Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility 4 mi N of Cooperstown and November-33 Launch Facility missile silo, 2 mi E of Cooperstown
  • Air Force Space and Missile Museum, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
  • Nike Missile Site SF-88, Marin County, California - fully restored Nike missile complex
  • Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  • National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio - the Nagasaki B-29 bomber Bockscar and missiles
  • National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. - the Hiroshima B-29 bomber Enola Gay

1.3. Atomic museums Miscellaneous

  • Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker, Cheshire countryside near the town on Nantwich, UK
  • Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Field Office exhibit hall
  • The Daigo Fukuryū Maru ship, a Japanese fishing boat that was contaminated after the Castle Bravo detonation in 1954, it is now on display in Tokyo at the Tokyo Metropolitan Daigo Fukuryū Maru Exhibition Hall.
  • Chernobyl Museum, Kiev
  • Greenbrier Bunker, Greenbrier County, West Virginia - underground bunker for the United States Congress
  • Nagasaki Peace Park and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Nagasaki
  • CFS Carp - also known as The Diefenbunker, a cold war nuclear museum in a former underground Canadian military facility outside of Ottawa
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima - contains the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and related memorials
  • Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker


2. Explosion sites

  • Nagasaki, last wartime use of an atomic bomb
  • Hiroshima, first wartime use of an atomic bomb
  • Parachute, Colorado - site of Project Rulison
  • Trinity Site, Socorro County, New Mexico - site of the first artificial nuclear explosion
  • Maralinga, South Australia - site of Operation Buffalo and Operation Antler
  • Carlsbad, New Mexico - site of Project Gnome
  • Carson National Forest, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico - site of Project Gasbuggy
  • Pacific Proving Grounds, US nuclear test site
  • Pokhran, Rajasthan - site of the Pokhran-II test
  • Rio Blanco County, Colorado - site of Project Rio Blanco
  • Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada - US nuclear test site

3. Atomic accidents

  • The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. Tourists can access the exclusion zone surrounding the plant, and in particular the abandoned city of Prypiat.
  • Windscale fire On October 10, 1957, the graphite core of a British nuclear reactor at Windscale, Cumbria, caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. The event, known as the Windscale fire, was considered the worlds worst reactor accident until the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Both incidents were dwarfed by the magnitude of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The Visitor Center was closed in 1992, and the public may no longer visit, it has been turned into a center for supplier conferences, and business events.
  • Three Mile Island was the site of a well publicized accident, the most significant in the history of American commercial nuclear power. The Three Mile Island Visitor Center, in Middletown, PA, educates the public through exhibitions and video displays.