City Behind Fence : Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1942- 1946 by Charles W Johnson

City Behind Fence : Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1942- 1946 by Charles W Johnson

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a town brought into existence by the U.S. government amidst the chaos of World War II, served a pivotal role in the development of the very first atomic bomb. Through the lens of oral history and recently declassified documents, this captivating book offers a fascinating glimpse into the exceptional everyday lives within this extraordinary community.

The Secret Cities: Oak Ridge, Tennessee – A Crucial Chapter in America’s Atomic Age

This article takes a closer look at the history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during its involvement in the top-secret project that eventually led to America’s entry into the atomic age. The story begins before the United States was formally involved in World War II, with scientists in Germany successfully splitting atoms of uranium in 1939. This discovery had immense potential for the creation of a powerful nuclear bomb.

A number of physicists in America and England, many of whom had fled Nazi oppression, grew concerned that Hitler’s regime might develop such a weapon, putting the freedom of the entire world at risk. In response to these fears, the Tennessee project known as “Sitex” was established as one of the major locations working towards the creation of an atomic weapon.

The primary mission of the Oak Ridge facility was the production of u-235, a key component in building a nuclear bomb. This was accomplished through complex operations, including gaseous diffusion and electromagnetic separation methods. The material produced in Oak Ridge eventually became the base for the world’s first military use of atomic energy in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Oak Ridge, as the largest and most complex of the three support communities, played a pivotal role in the successful organization and operation of the Manhattan Project. In just three years, it rapidly grew in population and became the fifth-largest city in Tennessee. While much has been written about the technical aspects of creating the atomic bomb and its military use, little attention has been given to the lives of the people in the support communities.

These secret cities, constructed from scratch, offer fascinating insights into American social history during this pivotal period. The successful operation of these communities was crucial to the overall success of the Manhattan Project’s atomic mission. Exploring the experiences and stories of the people who lived and worked in Oak Ridge and other support communities enriches our understanding of this extraordinary chapter in history.

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