Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
In late December Congress authorized the development of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (NHP). The Park, which would be managed by the National Park Service (NPS) in conjunction with the Department of Energy, will be in three separate locations that were critical to the development of U.S. nuclear weapons capability:
- Oak Ridge, Tennessee
- Hanford, Washington
- Los Alamos, New Mexico
While some units in the NPS are non-connected locations with a common theme (such as the various parks and monuments in Washington, D.C.), the Manhattan Project NHP will be the only one so spread out that you would really need to fly to see each location.
The Manhattan Project NHP is also unique due to the collaboration between the NPS and the Department of Energy, which still has active facilities in each of the three locations. Having grown up near one of them, I can state that there are historical sites already open to the public, but a coordinated effort between the three locations and the two agencies should augment the opportunities to engage with that history. The Atomic Heritage Foundation has done a lot of work in this area, and will be an important partner to this final push to make the Manhattan Project NHP a reality.
This NHP would be one of the few sites administered by the NPS engaged with technology of the 20th century. While technology of the day factors into many NPS displays and presentations, it is not often the driving force behind a particular park, monument or historic site (the Thomas Edison NHP being an exception that comes to mind). Perhaps in the coming decades we will see NASA collaborating with the NPS on a space-focused NHP spanning sites in Florida, Texas and California.
Per the enabling legislation, the NPS and the Energy Department are hard at work in developing a Memorandum of Understanding that would outline their respective responsibilities in managing the NHP. This must be done by December 19th of this year, at which time the NHP becomes official. This would end a process started back in 2001 and shepherded by countless numbers of people. Thanks.