Atomic age destinations abound in Nevada and these destinations are a great excuse for getting off the couch to experience the great outdoors. There will be plenty of fresh air and the Great Basin Desert scenery certainly is mesmerizing to see, plus there are opportunities for taking on some very lengthy dirt road Jeep trail excursions. As mentioned in previous Great Basin articles, careful planning must be done prior to arrival, because cellular communications are very limited. Vestiges of civilization are also few and far between, so topping off the fuel, food and water will ensure a safe trip if the unexpected occurs. Some of the dirt roads in the Great Basin are like smooth gravel highways, while others are more like a technical 4x4 course, so browsing the web for hints about the dirt road conditions may help to prevent biting off more than what can be chewed. A high ground clearance vehicle or 4x4 can handle nearly any dirt road in this desolate region, while passenger cars will have limitations. Vehicle reliability is another consideration, because this region definitely is not a good place to be stranded.
A previously published article features the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site, which is related to Project Adagio and this neighboring destination is best toured during the same trip. Nevada Highway 6 is the closest paved road and there are several worthwhile travel routes to get to the jumping off point. Tonopah on Highway 95 is the closest town with modern amenities, while goods or services can also be found in Alamo on Highway 93. Coming from the direction of Alamo gets the nod, because this travel route to Project Adagio follows the infamous Extraterrestrial Highway west past Rachel and Area 51 to Highway 6. Traveling on the E.T. Highway definitely will add some pizazz to the venture and there will be plenty of out of this world things to talk about along the way. The souvenirs are worth it too, so this is route option the best way to go.
The Project Adagio Nuclear Test Site actually can be found on Google Maps, but plotting the coordinates on a dedicated GPS device will ensure the map can be viewed in the cellular signal dead zone. The dirt roads to both Project Faultless and the neighboring Project Adagio are fairly smooth and a high ground clearance vehicle should have to problem getting to these destinations. There is no roadside signage in this area and neither of these destinations can be seen from a distance, so a visitor will have to rely on whatever mapping system that is in use.
Touring Project Faultless prior to arriving at Project Adagio will make it easier to understand the timeline of nuclear testing events that took place long ago. Before the above ground nuclear testing ban went into effect in the early 1960s, the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas was where most atomic bomb tests were performed. The above ground tests were actually a tourist attraction in Las Vegas, while the ensuing subterranean nuke tests had the opposite effect. Because most of the bedrock strata in southern Nevada is composed of super hardened caliche, the shockwaves from the underground nuclear tests thoroughly shook the tall concrete buildings in Las Vegas. In an effort to appease the residents of sin city, the Department Of Defense sought a new test site about 100 miles further north near Highway 6. Two underground nuclear tests were planned for this new site and Project Faultless was the first.
Project Faultless was a one megaton nuclear calibration test performed 3,200 feet underground to determine whether this new test site was suitable for much more powerful weapons testing. As it turned out, the underground nuclear blast displaced enough material to create a substantial sunken crater and the heavy steel bomb shaft was pushed high above ground level. The shockwaves could be felt in Las Vegas, so the blast proved that this area was not suitable for any further nuclear testing. The neighboring Project Adagio Nuclear Test Site was already built and ready to operate, but this planned nuclear test had to be canceled. As a result, the Project Adagio Test Site was frozen in time and it offers the rare opportunity to see what a nuclear test site looks like before the explosion goes off.
There are many atomic age artifacts to be discovered at Project Adagio and many have the original metal labels attached. Reading the fine print on these items is interesting to do, while wandering around this unexploded facility will truly be an educational experience. This property is managed by the Department Of Defense and there are some rules to be aware of, like not digging holes and no artifact collecting for obvious reasons. The radiation levels are normal above ground at these test sites, so there are no worries if you follow the guidelines. The same cannot be said about what lies underground and the metallic objects laying around tend to attract dangerous isotopes, so this destination definitely is for your eyes only. Touring Project Faultless and Project Adagio during the same dirt road journey is the best option and a lot of atomic age history certainly can be learned in the process!
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