On November 10, 2016, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (NHP) with units at Hanford, WA, Oak Ridge, TN, and Los Alamos, NM celebrated its first anniversary. All three sites have welcomed thousands of visitors in the past year.
As part of the anniversary, the newly appointed Manhattan Project NHP Superintendent Kris Kirby visited Hanford. Numerous media outlets, including the Tri-City Herald and the Associated Press, covered the anniversary celebration and an open house at the National Park Interim Visitor Center in Richland. According to the Tri-City Herald, Kirby spoke about increasing the public tour program at Hanford. She also visited the historic B Reactor, and described seeing the front face of the reactor as her “Wow!” moment.
More than 13,000 people have visited the Manhattan Project NHP at Hanford in its first year. Kirby called this figure “a great number.” According to National Park Service (NPS) data, the three sites of the Manhattan Project NHP have received more than 80,000 visitors so far in 2016. The Park Service and the local communities are expecting an influx of visitors in the coming years with projections ranging in the hundreds of thousands in five years.
NPS recently sought public comments on a draft foundation document for the Manhattan Project NHP. This document establishes a baseline for park planning and interpretive activities and provides basic guidance for planning and management decisions. The Park Service plans to finalize the document by the end of 2016. After this, NPS will begin the multiyear process of creating a general management plan that will guide the Manhattan Project NHP’s operations for twenty years.
In the meantime, there is plenty for visitors of all ages to see and do at each Manhattan Project NHP site. The Park Service has developed Junior Ranger booklets for children at all three sites, featuring a Manhattan Project timeline, information about life in each “Secret City,” and activities such as word searches and crossword puzzles. Children who complete the booklets will receive a Junior Ranger badge and patch.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park has certainly had a fruitful first year. The Atomic Heritage Foundation looks forward to working with the National Park Service and our partners to make even greater strides in the second year of the park.
[Image courtesy of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.]