A park like no other

By | Category: Travel news
Hanford © NPS

Hanford © NPS

In the USA, this is the centenary of the National Park Service. In Washington state which is on the far western side of the country abutting the Canadian border, a new addition to the National Park system has opened, the 409th.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park (there’s a clue to buffs of military history buffs amongst you) will be open for free tours from next month until September. The tours take four hours and you you will need to register in advance or in person on arrival. This park is a little different from ones you might expect as you see more than animals, the great outdoors and wilderness.

It is located near the town of Hanford and includes the Hanford Engineer Works, the Irrigation District Pump House, the high school and White Bluffs Bank. And this is a national park? Why would anyone want to look around an old high school?

The answer is that this was where some of the most secret work was achieved in the Cold War years. The engineer plant was built to create plutonium at a 600 sq. mile site along the Columbia River. The park includes the B Reactor National Historic Landmark, which produced the material for the Trinity test and plutonium bomb and Hanford Irrigation District Pump House providing a glimpse into the history of the Hanford area. The high school and the bank are also representative of the condemnation of private property and eviction of homeowners and Native American tribes to clear the way for top-secret work.

Will a “park” like this appeal to visitors? The National Park Service is expecting 100,000 visitors this year to come and remember a time in living memory to many when a fear of a nuclear attack was all too real in their minds.

Celebrating its centennial this year, the National Park Service expects the site to attract 100,000 visitors by 2018.

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