"Secret City's" 66th Year
Today (Friday, September 19th) marks the 66th anniversary of the formal designation of East Fork Valley in east Tennessee as the site of the "Secret City". It was on this day in 1942 that Major General Leslie Groves, U.S. Army (and Director of the Manhattan Project) stood atop Elsa's Ridge on the east edge of East Fork Valley, near a sweeping bend of the Clinch River, and declared that this valley would become home to the city that would house the bulk of the Manhattan Project.
During World War II, the project was known as the "Clinton Engineering Works" -- and housed at its peak more than 75,000 workers and their families. The Uranium-235 that powered the LITTLE BOY bomb on August 6th, 1945 came entirely from the Y-12 site in Bear Creek Valley (just across Pine Ridge to the south), while the crown jewel of Dept. of Energy National Labs lies one more valley to the south (Bethel Valley, across Chestnut Ridge from Y-12). And at the extreme west end of town, between East Fork Ridge and Blackoak Ridge, the K-25 site was a cornerstone of our nation's nuclear deterrent until its shutdown in the mid-1980s.
Happy Birthday, Oak Ridge!