Los Alamos Historical Society Leads Trinity Site Tour

The Los Alamos contingent joins others on a tour April 3-4 of the Trinity test site. Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Editor’s note: Los Alamos Daily Post photographer Leland Lehman traveled with members of the Los Alamos Historical Society on a two-day tour April 3-4 of the Trinity test site. Here are photos and a story from that event.

Staff Report

Marking the 70th anniversary of the test of the first nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, the Los Alamos Historical Society led a tour to the Trinity test site this past weekend.

The Society has taken tours to the site regularly, but this was the first two-day trip. The tour was a great success, introducing many first-time visitors to the historic New Mexico landmark.

Guided by professional tour guide Georgia Strickfaden of Buffalo Tours, the group left Los Alamos Friday morning heading for Alamogordo. A stop was made along the way to visit Valley of the Fires State Park near Carrizozo.

Strickfaden shared stories of the history of New Mexico during the drive, along with her husband Gerry Strickfaden, a volunteer with the Los Alamos Historical Society, and Museum Educator Aimee Slaughter. The tour’s first stop in Alamogordo was at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

Saturday morning began early, leaving the hotel before 7 a.m. to join the escorted caravan leaving at 8 a.m. from Tularosa High School for the south gate into White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).

The caravan drove 75 miles through WSMR, and along the way the group listened to an interview conducted by the Historical Society with Herbert Lehr. Lehr worked on the final assembly of the plutonium core of the “Gadget,” the bomb detonated during the Trinity test. This work occurred at the McDonald Ranch House, around two miles from Ground Zero, which was the first stop for the tour once inside WSMR.

Visitors walked through the threshold over which Lehr was photographed carrying the assembled core, explored the space in the Ranch House used as a clean room, and peered into the now-empty water tank that Manhattan Project workers used to cool off in during the summer heat of 1945.

The tour left the Ranch House to visit Ground Zero. Along the way, the Historical Society guides pointed out where observation stations and the Base Camp once stood. A lava-rock obelisk stands where the test tower was, which held the Gadget 100 feet in the air, and the back fence of the site displays a series of historic photographs of the test and the preparations leading up to it.

Preparations for the Trinity test began in the Jornada del Muerto Valley, where the test occurred, in December 1944. The test itself was carefully scheduled to occur before the Potsdam Conference, which began July 17, 1945.

The Trinity test’s success meant that the Manhattan Project’s past three years of work had resulted in a powerful new weapon; one which the United States expected would help speed the end of the war and place them in a position of power in the postwar world.

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

 

 

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

Photo by Leland Lehman/ladailypost.com

 

CSTsiteisloaded