On the 50th Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb
The Manhattan Project
The story of Trinity Site begins with the formation of the Manhattan Project in June 1942. The project was given overall responsibility of designing and building an atomic bomb. At the time it was a race to beat the Germans who, according to intelligence reports, were building their own atomic bomb.
Under the Manhattan Project three large facilities were constructed. At Oak Ridge, Tenn., huge gas diffusion and electromagnetic process plants were built to separate uranium 235 from its more common form, uranium 238. Hanford, Wash. became the home for nuclear reactors which produced a new element called plutonium. Both uranium 235 and plutonium are fissionable and can be used to produce an atomic explosion.
Los Alamos was established in northern New Mexico to design and build the bomb. At Los Alamos many of the greatest scientific minds of the day labored over the theory and actual construction of the device. The group was led by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer who is credited with being the driving force behind building a workable bomb by the end of the war.