When touring the lengthy dirt roads in central Nevada, it is best to be aware that there are several top secret bases in this region where outsiders are not welcome. This is especially true during times of heightened national security and just taking a few pictures near one of these facilities can lead to detainment or confiscation of the camera. For this reason, it is always best to be well aware of your location in the Great Basin Desert, so straying into high security zones will not be a problem. Being aware of where you are in this unforgiving desolate environment also is the key to survival, so it goes without saying that a detailed map or GPS device will be needed for an adventurous tour of this region. Cel phone navigation systems are useless where there are no cellular signals and it is best to not rely on the smart phone mapping in this area. Very few people tour the dirt side roads way out in these boonies, so you will be responsible for your own well being. Stocking up on extra fuel, food and water is a necessity, in case the unexpected occurs.
Mentioning the disclaimers and advisories first is always good to do for destinations in very remote locations and the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site definitely fits into this category. Just to make it sound exciting, this nuclear test site is located north of the infamous Area 51 and east of Tonopah, which is the home of another high security area. In reality, the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site actually is just a historic destination way out in the middle of the Great Basin sagebrush country and there are no longer any security restrictions in this entire region, which may be a let down for budding conspiracy theorists and UFO hunters. There is nothing but desert, dried up watering holes and a few neglected dead cattle to be seen around the old test site, which is normal for this unforgiving desert environment. In fact, there is nothing even remotely secret about this historic site and it can even be found on Google Maps.
A high ground clearance vehicle will be needed to get to the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site and a 4x4 will provide a smoother ride. Project Faultless is relatively easy to get to, but there is no road signage and the site cannot be seen from a distance, so it pays to keep the eyes peeled for man made objects in this desolate expanse. Once the first small white concrete pylon is seen, then you have arrived. The large rusty steel cylinder above the deep underground nuclear detonation shaft will also come into view, which is the central landmark in this old complex. Hiking around the grounds to look at the old atomic age artifacts is fascinating to do and there are many original plaques attached to items that are worth reading. There is also a Department Of Defense placard on the atomic detonation shaft cylinder that commemorates the historic event that took place at this site.
Project Faultless was the result of the ban on above ground nuclear weapons tests that went into effect in the early 1960s. Prior to this event, the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas was where nukes were tested and the above ground explosions were actually a tourist attraction, because the mushroom clouds could be viewed from the casino rooftops in sin city. Atomic weapons tests soon went underground at the nearby Nevada Test Site and one high yield megaton explosion beneath the earth thoroughly shook the buildings in downtown Las Vegas. It was then deemed that a new underground test site location was needed, so a spot was picked north of Highway 6 further away from the big city. Project Faultless was the name of the first 1 megaton nuclear calibration test performed 3,200 feet beneath the earth surface at the new site, which would determine whether this location was stable enough for more powerful underground testing.
As it turned out, the ground was not stable enough for testing at the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site. The ground in this general area sunk several feet and the heavy steel cylinder that lined the vertical underground shaft was pushed well above ground by the 1 megaton explosion. Shock waves also could be felt in Las Vegas, so moving the projects about 100 miles north did not satisfy the tall concrete building owners in sin city. As a result, this entire underground nuclear testing project was canceled and the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site has since been designated as a historic site that the general public can visit.
The ground surface radiation levels are normal at this test site, while the same cannot be said deep underground. Collecting artifacts or digging holes in the ground is not legal at the Project Faultless Nuclear Test Site for obvious reasons, so this truly is a place for your eyes only. Project Adagio was the second underground nuclear calibration test planned for this area and it is located nearby, so both of these historic places can be experienced in one day. There is a lot more to experience in this end of the Great Basin Desert that does not readily show up on a map, so be sure to stay tuned for upcoming articles!
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