It certainly is possible to do a classic atomic age tour of the west in modern times. The Trinity Site in New Mexico and the Nevada Test Site are the most popular atomic age destinations, simply because these places are so famous. There are also several lesser known nuclear age attractions to discover as well. Options include everything from visiting an old uranium mine to touring the underground complex of an old top secret nuclear weapons facility. Many of the old nuclear research centers have been preserved as historic sites, so a lengthy tour of the atomic west actually can be done, if you do not mind glowing in the dark when you get back home!
Idaho definitely has the reputation of being the land of potatoes and relatively few people associate this state with the atomic age, yet a groundbreaking nuclear research center is located here. The Electronic Breeder Reactor-1 is where atomic fission was first used to produce electric power. EBR-1 was groundbreaking in the sense that a plutonium breeder reactor was purely theoretical up to that point in time. The EBR-1 experiment was a success and enough power was produced to light up the building for many years. A larger experimental steam generator power plant was built nearby and the power lit up the little town of Arco, so this actually was the first place to use nuclear energy in a positive way.
Just like with most of the original atomic research centers, the EBR-1 site was located out in the middle of a desert, because of both safety and secrecy concerns. The Craters Of The Moon National Monument is only a few miles west of the EBR-1 Museum and the city of Twin Falls is close by, so there is plenty to see and do in this part of Idaho. "Atoms For Peace" is the local slogan and there is even a roadside park commemorating the first nuclear submarine. Atomic Burgers are sold at the local diners and all sorts of classic atomic age memorabilia can be found in these parts, so those who marvel over how early science fiction turned into reality will be in for a thrill of a lifetime. EBR-1 was constructed back when science fiction novels were keeping pace with scientific advancements, so the heavy equipment at the EBR-1 Museum certainly looks like 1940s era science fiction style technical artwork at its best!
The EBR-1 Museum is open during daylight hours from Memorial Day through Labor Day every summer. Plenty of atomic history and one of the very first nuclear meltdowns to occur happened in this place, so a lot can be learned by taking a guided tour. For this reason, the EBR-1 Museum must be placed high on the list when planning an atomic age tour of the wild west!
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